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The Psychology of Women 


The Psychology 



Associate Psychiatrist, Massachusetts General Hospital 
Lecturer y Boston Psychoanalytic Institute 

Foreword by 

Bullard Professor of Neuropatholo& 
Harvard University 




First printing, April 1944 

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1944 by Grune & Stratton, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication 
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic OT 
mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and re- 
trieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. 

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Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 44-5287 
International Standard Book Number 0-8089-01 15-X 

Printed in the United States of America ( U-B ) 


Foreword vii 

Preface ix 


I. Prepuberty I 

II. Early Puberty 24 

III. Puberty and Adolescence 91 

ly. Menstruation 149 

V. Eroticism: the Feminine Woman 185 

VI.. Feminine Passivity 219 

VII. Feminine Masochism 239 

VIII. The "Active" Woman: the Masculinity Complex. . 279 

IX. Homosexuality 325 

X. The Influence of the Environment 354 

Bibliography 387 

Index 395 


THE study of psychology takes many forms. This is 
legitimate and necessary because human psychology is 
the study of man's behavior, motives, and feelings, i. e., 
the study of his most complex neurophysiological mechanisms. 
Some investigators experiment on animals and apply the general 
conclusions more or less reasonably to similar phenomena in man 
(Cannon, Pavlov, Lashley) ; others construct tests to be used on 
man, to measure roughly certain forms of human behavior, and 
by great numbers of observations learn what is the "norm" and 
and what is "abnormal" response (Binet, Rorschach, Murray, 
McKinley). Recently analysis of mental abilities by batteries 
of performance tests, mathematically analyzed, has given 
"factor analysis" an important place in human psychology 
(Spearman, Thurstone). Many other methods might be 
mentioned, most of them aimed at general conceptions. The 
clinical approach is at the other end of the scale, for it is primarily 
concerned with the individual, and unique. From these 
observations, generalizations can eventually be drawn, but it 
takes longer to accumulate valid data. Nevertheless the great 
value of such a clinical method as psychoanalysis is that it 
attacks directly the question one wishes so much to answer: 
Why do people act that way? The crying need of our genera- 
tion is for insight into the human nature, the behavior of man. 
What French calls "the clinical approach to the dynamics of 
behavior" is as old as the art of writing, but Freud made it a 
medical discipline. In so far as it is disciplined, in so far as it 
makes careful observations, and tests and retests theories, it is 
already a science. One need not bother with the intellectual 
snobs who would keep the term "science" for laboratory 
"gadgeteering." First approximations, if honest, are just as 
"scientific" as final determination. On the other hand, the 
clinical psychiatrist has no right to say, as some do, that noth- 
ing can ever be learned about the mind by anatomical, chemi- 
cal, and physiological methods. Much has been learned in 



these ways, and there is more to come. The clinical approach, 
however, remains for the physician the most direct and re- 
warding method. 

Anyone reading this book will realize that Helene Deutsch 
has great knowledge of what women do and great insight into 
why they do it. Her data are the hundreds of cases she has 
seen; her approach is intuitive (which to me merely means that 
she has seen so much that she recognizes situations via mental 
short-cuts). Her postulates are those of Freud, some of which 
she has modified. 

Here is a book based on experience, the experience of "feeling 
as one's own" the emotions of a great number of girls and women. 
In her role as counsellor for many girls in difficulties, as psy- 
choanalyst for a great many women suffering from neurosis, and 
as hospital psychiatrist, Dr. Deutsch has had an extraordinary 
clinical opportunity to observe the behavior of women of all 
ages and sorts. Trained by Freud and working closely with him 
for years, she speaks the psychoanalytical language; but with 
her, understanding always comes first, with interpretation and 
theory following in secondary roles. 

She understands and vividly reports how adolescent girls act, 
and this throws light on some of the troubles the police are 
now having with "wayward schoolgirls." The developmental 
treatment of the subject emphasizes how the adult attributes of 
femininity may be logical consequences of early reactions. The 
role of emotion is most important; women seem to put more 
emotion into their life interests than men, hence their ability to 
observe and remember minutiae is greater. From this may 
arise intuition, "the most striking characteristic of woman." 
These are just a few of the stimulating ideas I get from the book. 
There are, of course, points of philosophy and methodology in- 
compatible with my own way of thinking, but they are details. 
The book is a real contribution, a great storehouse of information 
about feminine psychology. It is important to all of us, whether 
we happen to be parents, teachers, authors, or psychiatrists. 

Boston, February ', 1944 


From the beginning of my psychoanalytic work, my investi- 
gations have been centered on the problems of feminine 
psychology. Earlier results of these studies were published 
in a book entitled Psychoanalysis of the Sexual functions of 
Women. 1 The purpose of this book was to present a systematic 
picture of female instinctual development and its relation to 
the reproductive function. I was fully aware that the empiric 
data of this publication were insufficient and intended to supply 
further material in a subsequent publication. Since then I 
have continued to make observations and to gather material 
and have from time to time presented the results of these ob- 
servations in various publications. I feel that it is now neces- 
sary to restate my previous views in the light of this long ex- 
perience, to reassert those which have stood the test of later 
investigations, and to correct or discard those which have 
proved inadequate. 

Many ideas expressed in my previous book have been taken 
up by other authors and supplemented and enriched by new 
observations. The work which I am now presenting will 
supplement the previous one not only with my own experiences, 
but also with contributions made by other writers, above all by 
Freud in his later publications concerning the psychology of 

Several of the problems of femininity discussed here have 
given rise to lively debate. These differences of opinion were 
often based on misunderstanding and vagueness of definition, 
as tor example in relation to the psychologic concepts of "active- 
masculine" and "passive-feminine." These concepts were 
directly applied to tKeTenergy of the sexual instincts and this 
led to a confusion of psychologic and biologic phenomena. 

1 DEUTSCH, H. : Psychoanalyse der wciblichen Sexualfunktionen. Vienna: Internat. 
Psychoanal. Verlag, 1925. 


The criticism and insistence that these spheres should not be 
confused is fully justified. 

On the other hand, there is an increasingly strong tendency 
to explain the differentiated psychologic behavior of the sexes 
on the basis of educational and cultural factors and to reduce 
the part played by biologic and anatomic factors to a minimum. 
Psychoanalysis has never denied that the social milieu is of 
the utmost importance, that it both creates problems and de- 
termines how they are to be solved. The final chapter of the 
present book deals with this question and discusses the psycho- 
analytic conception of feminine psychology in tl e light of 
social conditions. 

Although psychoanalytic psychology was origiaally built 
upon the theory of the instincts, its foundations have been 
greatly broadened. The instinct of self-preservation, the in- 
stinct of aggression, and the death instinct have been differenti- 
ated from the sexual instincts, and psychoanalytic research 
is turning with increasing interest to the psychology of the ego. 
In this book the psychoanalytic theory of the instincts is used 
to illuminate the biologic background from which the psycho- 
logic personality of woman emerges. While the social milieu 
on the one hand, and the biologic factors on the other, have 
determining importance in relation to the psychologic mani- 
festations, emphasis is placed here on the individual emotional 
experiences and the conflicts connected with them. They 
cannot be reduced to either the biologic or the sociologic in- 
fluences, although there is a constant interplay between these 

The purpose of this book is to explain the normal psychic 
life of women and their normal conflicts. We know that degree 
of psychic health is not determined by the absence of con- 
flicts, but by the adequacy of the methods used to solve and 
master them. Pathology reveals the normal conflicts and 
helps us to understand normal processes in the light of morbid 
ones. Most psychoanalytic contributions to normal psychol- 


ogy have been made through the medium of pathology. For 
the study of feminine psychology, neurotic behavior is par- 
ticularly rich in implications. For this reason, case histories 
of neuroses are frequently cited here as evidence: the phe- 
nomena they portray, although not "normal," often rep- 
resent only a distortion or quantitative intensification of 
the "normal/' and thus can provide a kind of macroscopic in- 
sight into things that psychoanalysis deals with microscopically. 

Psychoanalysis has often been reproached for using only a 
relatively small number of technical terms to describe the ex- 
treme complexity of psychic life, and for always reducing the 
most varied manifestations to a unique dynamic process. The 
kind of evidence with which its theories are supported has been 
characterized as lacking in objectivity. 

The first reproach originates from a misconception of the 
task that psychoanalysis set for itself at the beginning. This 
task was to trace psychologic manifestations back to their 
source, to discover the interconnection of all psychic phe- 
nomena, and to reveal their common origin in definite in- 
stinctual tendencies. But such an effort at simplification and 
generalization is not peculiar to psychoanalysis. It is the 
fundamental goal of all scientific research, and in psycho- 
analysis it represents the sum of insights gained empirically. 

The second reproach that psychoanalysis cannot support 
its theories with direct objective data, as experimental sciences 
can is perfectly in order. Yet, despite this defect, psycho- 
analysis has been able to explore a dark region of the soul that 
has always been and probably will always remain inacces- 
sible to more objective study. Today, however, it is possible 
tor psychoanalysis to surmount this shortcoming to some degree. 
Because of the biologic character of the psychoanalytic theory 
of the instincts, its application to somatic processes is proving 
increasingly fruitful, and discoveries relating to the inter- 
dependence of organic and psychic factors have changed our 
conception of both, pointing to the presence of a common 


denominator. The relatively objective procedures employed 
in the study of somatic problems increases the possibility of 
also achieving greater objectivity in the analysis of psycho- 
logic factors. 

The material used in this book is not restricted to my per- 
sonal observations in the course of psychoanalytic therapy. 
It is taken from case and life histories recorded by other ob- 
servers physicians and social workers not prejudiced in 
favor of any psychologic theory. Routine hospital records 
proved a particularly valuable source of information. It goes 
without saying that I used these when I considered them to be 
reliable and when I could check them through personal contact 
with the patients involved. Another part of my material is 
taken from the files of various social agencies. 

This attempt at objectivity will not convince the prejudiced. 
As Freud 2 somewhat humorously says: 'Throughout the ages, 
the problem of woman has puzzled people of every kind you 
too will have pondered over this question in so far as you are 
men. From the women among you that is not to be expected, 
for you are the riddle yourselves/' However, woman's desire 
to solve the riddle of her own ego, her introspective contempla- 
tion of her own psyche, her capacity for identification with 
other women, are positive factors that can abundantly com- 
pensate tor a feminine observer's lesser degree of objectivity. 

Very often instructive data for this book have been found 
in creative literature, which is less objective than clinical ob- 
servation but all the more true because more inspired. After 
all, the ultimate goal of all research is not objectivity, but 

Because of the widely varied sources of the material and 
the continual necessity of deviating from the chronologic order 
of exposition, the individual chapters of the present book are 
perhaps less integrated than would be desirable. While the 
main theme and the sequence of the chapters were established 

1 FREUD, S.: Introductory lectures on psychoanalysis. Transl. by Joan Riviere. 
London: Allen & Unwin, IQIQ. P. 1^4. 


from the outset, each chapter took on a life of its own in the 
course of the work. This repeatedly made it necessary to 
introduce considerations of a general nature in order to explain 
and round out a special subject. I hope that the material as 
a whole and the conception of the different problems involved 
have thus been unified, despite the repetition and overlapping 
unavoidable in such a procedure. 

No special chapter has been devoted to the childhood of 
girls. In order to clarify the relationship between the psy- 
chology of the adult woman and that of the little girl, it seemed 
preferable to go back to the childhood phase in contextual rela- 
tion with the special problems of adults. 

A few words may be necessary to explain the organization 
of my material. I am dealing with three distinct although re- 
lated themes. The first concerns the exposition of the psycho- 
logic life of woman, starting with the young girl's psychologic 
development into womanhood, a process that is physiologically 
completed with the onset of menstruation. In the course of 
this process the foundations of the feminine personality are 
laid: what I call "the feminine core" is definitely formed. The 
analysis of this feminine core is comprised in my second theme. 
A special chapter is devoted to each of the three essential 
traits of femininity narcissism, passivity, and masochism, 
and the exposition of narcissism is combined with a description 
of the principal types of feminine women. But observation 
reveals the existence of types of women and modes of feminine 
behavior that seem to be at variance with our concept of 
femininity. My third theme is the analysis of this non- 
feminine aspect of femininity. Here I attempt to locate the 
feminine core beneath the surface even where psychologic or 
sexual behavior seems to contradict it or when social pressure 
compels women to assume "masculine" functions. The last 
three chapters deal with this problem. 

Because of the abundance of the material, it seemed im- 
possible to deal with the central problem of femininity 


motherhood within the confines of one volume. Therefore 
the fundamental duality of womanhood was formally divided: 
the individual development and personality of woman is dis- 
cussed in the first volume, and her role as servant of the species 
will be the subject of the second volume. 

As the exposition of the psychologic life of woman in her 
reproductive function requires constant reference to the funda- 
mental traits of femininity and to the psychologic develop- 
ment of girlhood, as defined in this study, the two parts are 
continuous. However, each of the two volumes, within the 
scope of its subject, is complete in itself. 

I wish to acknowledge my gratitude to Mr. Norbert Guter- 
man tor his assistance in the editorial preparation of the book. 

I am indebted to the publishers of the Psychoanalytic 
Quarterly for permission to quote two cases from my paper 
"On Female Homosexuality" (vol. I, 1932). 

Boston, January, 



THE basic tenets of psychoanalysis were expounded by 
Sigmund Freud in his "Three Contributions to the Theory of 
Sex. 1 From comprehensive and far reaching clinical ob- 
servations of adult neurotics over a long period of time, he de- 
duced the laws of sexual development in the child. Later, ana- 
lysts of children working in various countries largely confirmed 
his findings by direct observations and gave us an insight into 
child psychology that goes far beyond Freud's original frame- 

Freud's theory that the first phases of the child's develop- 
ment, the so-called pregenital, that is, the "oral" and "anal" 
phases, are the same in boys and girls, must be modified as a 
result of subsequent investigation. For while these phases 
give both sexes the same type of instinctual gratification, and 
the organic sources of the instincts as well as the person at the 
center of the instinct-gratifying environment, the mother, are 
the same for boys and girls, the objective observer can clearly 
distinguish sex differences despite these apparent identities. 2 The 
climax of this differentiation is reached in the so-called "phallic" 
phase. During this phase, the anatomic difference between the 
sexes, although previously noticed by the child, assumes a 
special significance. The little boy's pride in his male organ, 
his fears concerning it, the comparisons he makes between him- 

1 FREUD, S.: Three contributions to the theory of sex. New York: Nerv. & Ment. 
Dis. Pub. Co., 1910. 

* I am aware of the controversy and confusion regarding the terms "instinctual" 
and "sexual," but retain them until a better terminology is convincingly estab- 
lished. Here the terms are used to denote the extragenital pleasure functions of 
the infant, which merge and interact with the alimentary, excretory, and other 
biologic functions. Such use of the word "instinctual" should not be interpreted 
as a denial of the existence and importance of other instincts. 


self and other boys and girls, are his main interest. Parallel 
processes take place in the little girl, but in her psychic life 
pride is replaced by envy, and fear of loss by complicated emo- 
tional reactions connected with nonpossession. In both sexes 
the emotional reactions relating to the genitals are usually 
summed up in the term "castration complex." 

The interest in the previously unexplored field of infantile 
sexuality as discovered by Freud is now gradually giving place 
to an interest in the development of the child's ego, and here 
too there is a justifiable tendency to stress the difference be- 
tween the sexes. At present, scientific interest in child psy- 
chology is focused on the methods of adjustment to reality and 
the development of emotions and intelligence. Psychoanalysis 
must be credited with having made a significant contribution 
in this field too, through its discovery that important elements 
in the psychologic development that seem to have nothing to 
do with the sexual drives, can in the last analysis be traced to 
them. Thus, the child's sexual curiosity, which, as we know, 
reaches its greatest intensity during the "phallic" phase and is 
manifested first of all in his preoccupation with the anatomic 
difference between the sexes, contributes to the development of 
a more general curiosity. This interest, sexual in its beginning, 
continues in the sublimations of the so-called latency period. 
Many social and intellectual forces of the maturing human being 
develop out of the instincts of childhood; the process of adjust- 
ment to reality grows more and more active and reaches its 
apex at the end of the latency period, in prepuberty. 

We know that the child's freedom from sexual drives dur- 
ing the latency period is only relative; on the other hand, 
there is no doubt that, conversely, the infantile phase preceding 
it is not taken up exclusively with sexual development, and that 
active adjustment to the environment, the drive to conquer it, 
and many forces other than the sexual ones, are present in 
the human child from the very beginning. During the latency 
period, the child's interest in sexual matters largely subsides, 
but does not disappear altogether. All the inner dynamics, all 


the drives in this period of weakened sexual urges, can be 
used for the unhampered development of the ego. Training 
and education strengthen the ego in its struggle for liberation 
from infantile instinctual forces and further its adaptation to 
reality and its socialization. Within the framework of the fam- 
ily, the infantile ties are now freed from the dross of sexuality. 
Tenderness takes the place of erotic needs, activity that of 
infantile aggression, etc. 

Psychoanalysis is par excellence an evolutionary theory, and 
even when it speaks of "thrusts" in the process of development, 
it refers to more or less revolutionary intensifications of evolu- 
tionary processes. Thus, when we call puberty a psychologic 
revolution, we are quite well aware that it is only a thrust for- 
ward from the previous evolutionary stages. It has become a 
cliche in psychoanalytic parlance to define puberty as a "new 
edition of the infantile period." But we have not paid sufficient 
attention to the preparatory activity upon which puberty com- 
pletely depends, the prerevolutionary mood, so to speak, that 
prevails in the psyche during the period immediatelv preceding 
puberty, that is, in prepuberty. 

I must confess that my information about these processes 
does not always have the full authority of direct personal ob- 
servation. My sources are, first, women whom I have observed 
in the course of psychoanalytic treatment and whose behavior 
can be understood only as a direct continuation of prepuberty, 
and, second, many young girls of college age who have consulted 
a psychoanalyst about difficulties experienced in adapting them- 
selves to their milieu, which requires them to be "free" and 
"modern." As a rule it is a conscious conflict, a feeling of help- 
lessness, that induces them to consult a psychiatrist; but often 
they seek help as a result of anxiety states and inability to do 
their work. In the short psychotherapy I apply in such cases, 
I try first of all to obtain detailed information about the pa- 
tient's puberty and prepuberty. Third there are direct clinical 
observations and a large number of records and case histories 
of young girls who have become psychically ill or presented 


educational difficulties during prepuberty. Often pathologic 
manifestations have given me an insight into normal processes. 
Fourth, and this is a far from negligible source, there are works 
of literature in which artistic intuition, often with striking 
clarity, has confirmed what we have painstakingly recon- 
structed by means of objective observations. 

I define prepuberty as that last stage of the latency period 
in which certain harbingers of future sexual drives may be dis- 
cerned, but which in the main is the period of greatest freedom 
from infantile sexuality. It is a phase in which sexual instincts 
are at their weakest and the development of the ego most in- 
tense. This definition is not entirely in accord with that given 
by other authors, for whom prepuberty is characterized by the 
intensified sexual needs that mark the onset of puberty. For 
the purposes of my exposition it has seemed preferable to con- 
sider this rise of sexuality as belonging to the subsequent phase 
of early puberty. I call prepuberty prerevolutionary because, 
as I shall demonstrate, the very forces that are summoned to 
combat the sexual drives in puberty are prepared in prepuberty, 
the period of greatest freedom from sexual urges. In this the 
human psyche is a wise government, forging its weapons before 
the aggressor appears. 

It is difficult to state the exact age at which prepuberty, as I 
conceive it, occurs. The transition stages between the different 
phases are fluid, and attempts to construct and define a period 
of development too precisely lead to the error of drawing too 
sharp lines. However, so far no way has been found for elimi- 
nating this defect in method. I would suggest that we limit 
prepuberty to the years between the ages of 10 and 12, not for- 
getting the fact that its manifestations continue far into pu- 
berty, and, exactly as is the case with puberty itself, may even 
persist until the age of the climacterium. In varying degrees 
we all carry our infantilism, our prepuberty, and our puberty 
with us right into old age. 

Much the easiest way to proceed would be to take as our 
starting point the physiologic developments, which throughout 


this phase of life are particularly important in determining 
psychologic developments, and to make the appearance of 
menstruation the boundary line between prepuberty and pu- 
berty. But our observation seems to show that although 
menstruation is the key to the struggles of puberty and has 
great significance in the young girl's psychology, we cannot 
draw an absolute parallel between physical and psychologic 
events. There are girls who menstruate before they reach 
psychologic puberty and others who enter upon psychologic 
puberty before the corresponding physical signs make their 
appearance. Similarly as regards the climacterium: there are 
tired old women who still menstruate and women who remain 
vigorous and youthful even after the physical climacterium has 

In view of our conception of prepuberty, what do we consider 
typical of the girl in this phase? We all assume, as does Freud, 
that the young girl's development into womanhood is inaugu- 
rated by a sudden increase of passivity. In 1925,* I expressed 
the view that a "thrust of activity" precedes this increase of 
passivity. In my opinion, this thrust of activity is the principal 
characteristic of prepuberty. In this respect boys and girls are 
still the same, since in the boy also the last phase of the latency 
period is characterized by an intensification of activity. But 
the form and content of this activity are clearly differentiated 
in girls and boys, and give the prepuberty of girls a very spe- 
cific character. I believe that the thrust of activity represents 
not an increase of aggression but rather an intensive process of 
adaptation to reality and of mastery of the environment made 
possible by the development of the ego. That this activity 
contains certain dangers for the future sexual development of 
the girl, i.e., for her future passivity, cannot be denied. 

The intensified activity characteristic of prepuberty serves to 
mobilize the child's intellectual and artistic talents and his or 
her aspirations, affective hopes, new identification tendencies, 
etc. Its source lies in the inherent drive of the ego toward 

1 Op. cit. 


growth and independence. From earliest infancy there exists 
in all normal individuals an urge to grow up and achieve some- 
thing. This drive is particularly strong in prepuberty, when 
the young girl of 1 1 lives in a world situated between the past 
and the future, between childhood and adulthood. A further 
loosening of the affective ties of childhood and an increased 
sense of responsibility and independence are also to be noted at 
this period. The renunciation of infantile fantasy life is of the 
greatest importance for the growing girl. This is principally 
accomplished through the search for new object relationships, 
that is, new objects to love, to hate, and with which to be 
identified. The need to be recognized as an adult is great at 
this time and the battle tor such recognition is all the more acute 
and painful because the young person in her insecurity and need 
for protection has an unconscious desire to remain a child. 

Thus the young girl launches an offensive against the environ- 
ment, and her principal weapon is the effort to become adjusted 
to it. This involves a "turn toward reality" that is another 
characteristic of prepuberty, closely connected with the thrust 
of activity. 

A certain degree of ego strength must be attained before the 
offensive can begin, but it is also true that activity and the 
effort to master the environment serve to build up an ego 
strength that brings the child closer to adulthood. There is a 
physical analogy to this reciprocal psychologic relation : muscu- 
lar activity implies possession of a certain degree of strength and 
muscular development, but at the same time it increases 
strength and furthers growth. 

This offensive of prepuberty avails itself of various means; 
these vary according to the child's milieu, education, and, 
above all, psychologic history. The expressions of this turn 
toward reality naturally have an individual character. The 
events of early childhood, environmental influences, particular 
talents in other words, all the elements of the girl's disposition 
and constitution give this development its individual content. 
Its form is determined by the cultural and social milieu. 


In discussing personality formation in prepuberty, we shall 
turn our attention again and again to the problem of identifica- 
tion. The weaker the child's ego, the more it resorts to identi- 
fication with adults in its adjustment to the adult world. This 
process is now more complicated than before. We often make 
the mistake of assuming that identification with the mother 
makes for "femininity" in the child's personality, and identifi- 
cation with the father for 'masculinity." We tend to forget 
that in the wide range of child-parent relationships developed 
in the course of childhood there is no one single consolidated idea 
of the mother or the father. There is a beloved mother, and a 
hated mother; a sublime ideal mother and a disreputable sexual 
one; a mother who has castrated the father and another who has 
been castrated by him; one who bears children and one who 
kills them; one who nourishes them, another who poisons them; 
there is the rival, and the personification of security and protec- 
tion. Similarly, there are many different fathers creating a 
host of possibilities for identification. The choice of identifica- 
tion objects in prepuberty depends largely upon these earlier 
developments. The way in which the child resolved its con- 
flicting feelings of ambivalence in earlier periods is also impor- 
tant. Much depends on whether identification with the loved 
objects is possible or whether the intensity of the child's own 
aggressive and intensive guilt feelings drives him or her to 
identification with a malign, punitive, suffering, or even dead 

Each of these possibilities becomes stronger in this period of 
active searching for methods of strengthening the ego and 
influences the character of the child's prepuberty. Simultane- 
ously, the tendency to abandon earlier identifications becomes 
noticeable. The young girl begins to be extremely critical of 
her parents and particularly of her mother; she develops a very 
realistic approach to the outside world, gives up her infantile 
overestimation of her parents, and frequently makes energetic 
attempts to be different from her mother. This critical depre- 
ciation is not consistently carried out. On the contrary, the 


young girl who is sharply critical of everything at home often 
tries to make it appear in school that her parents are extremely 
important and noble people. She often tells completely false 
stories glorifying them, stories that nobody believes, in order to 
negate her tendency to belittle them. 

This is the form that the so-called "family romance" 4 as- 
sumes in prepuberty. In her urge to independence the young 
girl tries to rid herself of all the old traces of identification; not 
being ready for independence, however, she makes compromises. 
She may, for instance, place a friend's family in the position of 
her own, bringing home tales of how wonderful everything is 
in her friend's house, despite the fact that the standard of living 
there is far inferior to that in her own home. Or she may de- 
velop a passionate love for a woman teacher who suggests an 
ego ideal and to whom she ascribes all the qualities she feels to 
be lacking in her mother. Such a relation clearly indicates 
unconscious dependence on the mother, and we often wonder 
why the latter, who is sometimes a much finer person than the 
adored teacher, should be displaced by her. The obvious 
answer is that the relationship to the mother is extremely am- 
bivalent and that it seems emotionally more "economical" to 
resolve this conflict of ambivalence by creating a split between 
the mother and the teacher. Love for the teacher is also a 
compromise formation that makes it possible to avoid the dan- 
ger of infantile dependence on the mother. But the longing 
for the mother is expressed in the outer world in relation to this 
new object. 

In the prepuberty of girls, attachment to the mother repre- 
sents a greater danger than attachment to the father. The 
mother is a greater obstacle to the girl's desire to grow up, and 
we know that the condition of "psychic infantilism" found in 
many adult women represents the outcome of an unresolved 
attachment to the mother during prepuberty. Nevertheless, 

4 The term "family romance" is applied to a common psychoanalytically disclosed 
childhood fantasy: the child fancies that his parents are not his real progenitors; 
his real parents are famous and powerful, and his birth is shrouded in mystery. 


the displacement of the old objects of identification is in itself a 
certain step forward and sometimes creates new social and ideo- 
logic values. The new object of identification may actually 
prove to be the representative of a more progressive, more ideal 
world. But, interestingly enough, in other instances the object 
selected is a sexually disreputable person. On closer examina- 
tion, even this choice, directed either toward the mother's 
opposite or toward an unconscious image of the mother con- 
ceived as predominantly sexual, betrays the girl's dependence. 

Naturally, relations with brothers and sisters play an impor- 
tant role in the struggle to achieve adulthood. During the 
period of her increased activity, a young girl who has grown up 
with a brother may strive to appear not only grown-up, but 
also boyish. The girl's sister, especially if she is only a little 
older but old enough to be obviously ahead in the race for 
adulthood, becomes an object either of hateful envy or, more 
rarely, an ideal figure. More often, a friend of the sister, the 
sister of a friend, or an older schoolmate will be selected as the 
ideal object. Because such an identification can be achieved 
quickly by the girl, this choice expresses the sense of the real 
that is characteristic of girls in prepuberty. 

Such a relationship to an older girl is often dangerous, since 
the older one may entice the younger into actions for which she 
is not yet ripe. We shall return to this later in our discussion. 

Along with these most important objects of identification, 
there are many other temporary figures, such as characters 
found in books, films, or plays. These various identifications, 
which later in puberty can be explained as defense mechanisms, 6 
and which one meets in schizoid personalities as expressions of 
a pathologic emotional condition, 8 prove on closer inspection 
to have a completely specific character in prepuberty. They 
remind us strongly of the play of small children, and seem to be an 
"acting out" of those transitory, conscious wishes that express 

8 FREUD, A.: The ego and the mechanisms of defense. London: Hogarth, 1937. 
6 DEUTSCH, H.: Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizo- 
phrenia. Psychoanalyt. Quart., vol. u, 1942. 


the idea, "That's what I want to be like." It is noteworthy 
that this acting out has a concrete and real character, quite 
different from fantasying. 

An inner urge forces the young girl in prepuberty to act. She 
must turn toward reality, and her tendency to take everything 
most realistically at this period can readily be observed. 
Phrases, symbols, etc., are endowed with full reality value, and 
this, combined with the tendency to experience things directly, 
makes her acting out quite bizarre. Let us consider, for 
example, the behavior of a certain 12-year-old girl who was 
preparing for her first formal dance. She was tormented by 
anxieties and feelings of inferiority, and above all feared that 
she would not look sufficiently grown-up. She had her hair 
done elaborately so as to make herself look older, and the hair- 
dresser prophesied that she would surely turn all the boys' 
heads. For hours in front of her mirror she practiced the ges- 
tures of zfemme fatale, but when evening came she refused to 
go to the party. She was overwhelmed by a panic fear of 
"turning all the boys' heads" and did not wish to take upon her 
conscience the terrible state she would precipitate in them. 
"After all I cannot marry all the boys who fall in love with me, 
so what will the poor fellows do?" she exclaimed in despera- 

The fantasy that she had borrowed from an outside source 
had immediately been endowed with reality and given a 
practical application, in the negative form of a refusal to act. 

Because of the limitations of her own tiny personality, the 
young girl resorts to all kinds of methods to give content and 
purpose to her activities v For instance, she works out a de- 
tailed plan of living that she follows strictly for a short time, 
and then replaces it with another. She tries to pattern her 
existence after that of characters in books or in real life. Some- 
times she even utilizes newspaper advertisements. Having 
used some widely advertised cosmetic, she naively experiences 
all the satisfactions of an enchantingly beautiful woman. 

Fascinating examples of such identifications in a 1 2-year-old 


girl are to be found in Sally Benson's Junior Miss. 7 No 
clinical or statistical studies can tell us as much about the 
psychology of prepuberty as do the little episodes in Judy's 
life as described by this sensitive and talented author. Young 
Judy even makes her own person an object of identification 
whenever by so doing she can play a dramatically attractive 
role. For instance, after having seen a play in which the 
heroine is a self-sacrificing daughter, she plays the role of a 
young girl who loves her daddy more than she cares for any- 
thing else in the world, and is quite disillusioned by her father's 
prosaic response. A younger child would have drawn her 
father into the play; a girl in puberty would fill her inner life 
with fantasies relating to this situation. But Judy, who is in 
prepuberty, "play acts." A little later, as puberty approaches, 
this form of play acting is replaced by the desire to become an 

Another form of the young girl's play acting is continual 
meddling in the affairs of grown-up people. Full of intense 
curiosity, she notices everything, makes her own interpreta- 
tions, elaborates what she sees with her usually not overrich 
imagination, and takes upon herself an active role as either a 
helper or a disturber. For the most part she identifies herself 
with persons madly in love, or with the suffering, persecuted 
people of some drama, set not in any fantastic world but in 
humdrum reality. Her activities are often hypomanic in 
character and are a perfect nuisance to everyone around her, 
particularly when they are accompanied by any considerable 
measure of aggressive tendencies. 

An important role is also played by secrecy, the counterpart 
of curiosity in prepuberty. The 12-year-old is always sensing 
that others have secrets; she wants to know what is going 
on in everyone else's life, but at the same time surrounds her 
own person with secrecy. For this she needs a partner, and 
most often she finds one in a girl of her own age or in a group 
of girl friends. The urge to have secrets is usually directed 

7 BENSON, S.: Junior miss. New York: Random House, 1941. 


against the grownups, above all against the mother or her 
substitute. Revenge for the mother's having secrets that 
she keeps from the child that old reproach now, at the age 
of increased activity, takes the form of having secrets of one's 
own. The reproach, "Why didn't she tell me that?" formerly 
referred not to the concealing of the event, but to the mysteri- 
ous event itself. In prepuberty the affective reaction is 
transferred from the event to the secrecy about it. A typical 
example is the situation connected with the birth of a little 
brother or sister: it is not the birth that becomes the reason 
for conscious reproach of the mother, but the concealment 
of the fact of pregnancy. The fact that the mother, as is 
often the case, really spoke many times of the coming birth, 
is ignored or repressed. Exactly the same thing takes place 
later with regard to menstruation. 

The need to have secrets is often expressed in a paradoxic 
manner. The young girl confides to everyone under seal of 
secrecy. "You are the only person to whom I am telling this. 
Swear that you won't repeat it to anyone," she says and then 
proceeds to tell her secret to the very next person. 

The need to have secrets and to reveal them leads to inven- 
tion of lies when real events are lacking. A harmless kind of 
pseudology thus arises less rich in fantasy, however, and less 
developed than the pseudology of adolescence. A not in- 
considerable number of adult women retain this compulsion 
to confide secrets to all sorts of people. 

Now let us turn to the question of what happens to the 
young girl's affective life during this period. The flight from 
childhood marked an energetic attempt to weaken the old 
affective ties, especially to escape the tender or critical protec- 
tion of the mother. We know what difficulties the mother 
encounters when she tries to explain to her daughter that she 
is ready to help her to achieve successful adulthood (even when 
the attempt is sincere). Adulthood achieved with the mother's 
help is not attractive. There is no doubt that despite strenuous 
efforts to loosen the fetters of childhood dependency, many 


of the young girl's emotional ties to the family persist. Such 
emotions are often transferred to persons who are direct suc- 
cessors to or substitutes for the family members (for instance, 
teachers). The girl's deep and consciously felt love turns 
toward another girl, either an older girl representing her ego 
ideal, or a girl like herself with whom she giggles and titters, 
with whom she locks herself up in her room, to whom she 
confides her secrets, and with whom she experiences the harm- 
less sexual gratification typical of this age. 

The choice of this object is of the greatest importance, for 
it is an alter ego, an extension of the girl's own ego, identical 
with her in respect to age, interests, and desires. At this 
period, when the ego is not yet capable of creating a new emo- 
tional relationship with the surrounding world and is too weak 
to feel independent, the young girl runs the danger of dif- 
fusing herself in numerous identifications. During prepuberty 
these identifications for some time have a rather playful, 
imitative character. As the girl grows older their importance 
in the formation of her personality increases. As a rule, 
identification gradually assumes a more fixed form and attaches 
itself to definitely valuable objects. But varying identifica- 
tions may continue to exist and in some cases lead to a far 
reaching impoverishment of the girl's personality. 

There are various ways of avoiding self-diffusion in identi- 
fications. The easiest device of the young girl in prepuberty 
is to attach herself directly to another girl in order to feel 
more secure. Despite her noisy self-assurance, she is aware 
of her inadequacy and needs someone as insignificant as herself 
in order to feel stronger, doubled as it were. She wants some- 
one who not only shares with her the pleasure and burdens of 
secrecy and curiosity, but who also resembles her and who, 
like herself, is undergoing the suffering of feeling insignificant. 
She can endure the burden of secrecy, the feeling that the 
surrounding world is hostile, and the torments of guilt, with 
greater ease because she endures them with another. 

This relationship is "monogamous." Faithfulness and 


exclusiveness are demanded of the friend and, above all, 
complete partnership in common secrets. The partners must 
tell each other everything and exclude all others, particularly 
the grownups, from their confidences. The momentous dis- 
coveries they impart to each other relate chiefly to the sexual 
sphere. Just as the phallic phase of childhood was taken up 
with the interest in anatomic differences, so prepuberty con- 
centrates on physiologic processes. It is no longer the problem 
of genital differences that fascinates girls in this stage, for they 
already know about these differences and more or less accept 
them. Absorption in the functions of the sexual organs and 
their size, in the inside of their own bodies, in the development 
of their breasts, etc., now replaces their old interest in the 
difference between boys and girls. 

In this realm they tell each other truths and falsehoods, 
and together they examine the world from the point of view of 
sexual events. One of them may even attempt to experience 
something in order to have a secret to tell. When they are 
separated they write each other all matter of important in- 
formation or each keeps a diary for the other. In this special 
secrecy everything assumes a sexual character. Harmless 
words like "that," "this," "make," etc., acquire a double 

Hug-Hellmuth's self-portrayal in A Young Girl's Diary* 
seems to offer a perfect example of such behavior in prepu- 
berty. After the death of its author, academic psychologists 
branded it as a falsification, offering as proof the fact that it did 
not conform to the character of young girls as observed by 
them. In one respect they were right: the life of the young 
girl includes not only what was expressed in the diary but also 
school, sports, musical interests, family events, etc. However, 
a diary is the expression of that part of a girl's inner life 
that she shares only with her best friend or with a selected 
group of friends. The value of the Hug-Hellmuth publication 

8 HUG-HELLMUTH, H.: Tagebuch eines halbwuchsigen Madchens (ed. 2). Vienna: 
1921. A young girl's diary. New York: Seltzer, 1921. 


is that it gives us an insight into areas of the young girl's lite 
that she would ordinarily hide from a psychologist or any 
other authoritative grownup. Secrecy is an essential element 
of the young girl's pleasure in sexual investigations and discus- 
sions. Professional people who for therapeutic reasons wish 
to get close to such girls repeatedly find that it is only with 
greatest difficulty that they can obtain a true picture of the 
child's secret life. These children display particularly stub- 
born resistance to motherly women. It is possible to achieve 
an intimate relationship with them only if one can assume 
the role of a "girl friend." 

For my own part I completely concede the authenticity of 
Hug-Hellmuth's diary. It is so absolutely true to life that I 
feel that only a young girl could have had the experiences de- 
scribed in it and written about them in such fashion. 

Let us return to our two-girl friendship. We have endowed 
sexual investigations and the keeping of common secrets with 
the significance of sexual gratification. Actually they are the 
only form of such gratification at this age. Expression of 
intense tenderness between girls is not found at this time, 
and mutual masturbation almost never occurs under normal 
circumstances. Moreover, it is rare to find any direct, con- 
scious masturbatory activity. We have seen that the fantasy 
life of the girl in prepuberty, in contrast to that of puberty, 
has a more extroverted character and tends in the direction 
of play acting. The problem of pregnancy, for example, plays 
an important role in both these periods. The young girl in 
puberty represses her pregnancy fantasies and suffers from 
anxieties and symptoms relating to them. But in prepuberty 
she shuts herself up in a room with her friend and both of them 
stuff little pillows under their dresses and play at being preg- 
nant. Similarly with respect to prostitution fantasies: the 
younger girls are very much occupied with this subject, tell 
tales about it, use* their mothers' powder, paste red paper on 
their cheeks, redden their lips with candies, and act out their 
prostitution fantasies together, whereas in puberty girls with 


the same fantasies become extremely ascetic or develop symp- 
toms of agoraphobia. 

Naturally, their physiologic investigations are centered 
around the sexual act, pregnancy, and childbirth. They 
elaborate many theories about the "how" and the "what" 
of these things, but here too they use material taken from 
reality. They are particularly prone to pick up any suggestion 
that the whole business is due to a brutal act on the part of the 
man and that the unfortunate woman suffers great pain and 
distress. It is interesting to note that in every phase of life 
feminine masochism finds some form of expression. 

The friendship between the two girls always has a more or 
less mutually complementary form, that is to say, one girl is 
the more active and the other the more passive. This relation 
can be of various intensities: the passivity of one partner may 
be only subtly indicated or may take the form of absolute 
subjection to the other. 

As puberty approaches, these relations assume a more sado- 
masochistic character. They can have a great and even harm- 
ful effect, particularly on the masochistic partner. Sometimes 
young girls suffer from inhibitions in study or work, as a result 
of which they suddenly or gradually become incapable of doing 
anything that requires exercise of will and endurance of any 
discomfort. The explanation of these difficulties is to be found 
in the girl's absorption in fantasies. I recently had an op- 
portunity to observe a young girl who stubbornly refused to 
do anything. She gave up every activity she undertook as 
soon as she found that it involved the slightest discomfort. 
I discovered that she was masochistically subjected to a sadistic 
girl of her own age and that she had become unable to endure 
discomfort unless it was accompanied by rewards in the form 
of masochistic pleasure. Such a sadomasochistic relation can 
continue into puberty and exert a determining influence on 
subsequent heterosexuality. 

The relation between the two girls evolves in different ways. 
It is dissolved, or the objects change, or, much less frequently, 


it leads to a sublimated friendship that may continue through- 
out life. Sometimes one of the two girls develops sexually 
more quickly than the other. Out of jealousy or identifica- 
tion, the more immature one tries for her part also to take the 
heterosexual path the other has followed, although she lacks 
the necessary psychologic preparation or has only a sham 
preparation. She easily falls into confusion, and this may have 
unfortunate results, the nature of which will depend upon the 
girl's social milieu. Many acts of gangsterism, prostitution, or 
criminality in very young girls are the consequence of a violent 
interruption of prepuberty, with its harmless homosexual 
attachments, in favor of a heterosexuality for which they are 
not yet really ready. In my opinion the real dangers of this 
period of life lie in any anachronistic behavior. Either the 
young girl is retarded in her psychologic growth by the exces- 
sive solicitude of the persons around her or by her own exces- 
sively infantile emotional ties, sense of guilt, and fears; or, 
conversely, premature experiences produce disturbances in 
the development of her whole personality, perhaps even 
neurotic difficulties. 

The relation to the other sex in this period is normally non- 
sexual in both boys and girls. In the eyes of the boy, who is 
extraordinarily proud of his manliness, friendship with girls 
amounts to a devaluation of his manliness (this is in contrast 
to the attitude in late puberty). The girl adopts an "I don't 
care" attitude, but at bottom she believes in the superiority 
of the boy. This is especially true in groups that value achieve- 
ments in the field of sports. A strongly active girl engages 
in competition and becomes a tomboy, especially if she finds 
that her girl friends have ambitions in the same direction. 
What often brings boys and girls together in quiet corners at 
this age is curiosity rather than sexual attraction. Even when 
there are concrete sexual activities in relations between girls 
and boys, curiosity plays the main role. 

Tomboyishness, which so frequently manifests itself during 
the activity phase, is not only normal but also often more 


desirable from the point of view of psychologic health than 
a passive girlish attitude and withdrawal into domesticity. 
More than at other periods of childhood, individually varying 
dispositions now become noticeable. Some girls develop femi- 
nine charm, show a growing interest in feminine pursuits, some- 
times even simulate stupidity in order to be treated more ten- 
derly. Others display more active boyish traits from the 
outset. The influences of the milieu and the attitudes of 
parents and brothers and sisters probably play a large part in 
determining the character of the girl; but every manifestation 
of a boyish attitude in prepuberty undoubtedly represents a 
strengthening of the previously existing desire to be a boy. 
If this desire is not accompanied by reactions like feelings of 
inferiority, depression, etc., it should not cause concern. 

As puberty approaches and the young girl experiences the 
first symptoms of sexual anxiety or some love disappointment, 
this tomboyishness is often used as a weapon, as a protection 
against femininity, particularly if her fantasies have a maso- 
chistic character. Such an anxiety can drive the girl into 
passivity and domesticity or into masculinity and homosexual- 
ity. But these processes take place much more often during 

In my description of the development characteristic of pre- 
puberty, I have several times referred to its "offensive." It is 
clear that the motive force in this phase is the inherent urge of 
the ego to grow up and achieve things. 

On the road to this goal the maturing girl must liberate her- 
self from her former dependences. The first prerevolutionary 
storms take place within the modest framework of her home 
environment. For the most part, adaptation to the school 
milieu proceeds well for a long time. The difference in behavior 
at school and at home is often striking: we are all familiar 
with the type of child who is completely out of hand at home 
but a model of good behavior at school. The converse, good 
behavior at home and trouble making in school, is less frequent. 
The transfer of the conflict from home to school is mostly bound 


up with complicated emotional processes. Playing hooky 
in order to be outside during school hours and fear of school 
on one hand, and the desire to remain at home on the other, 
usually prelude graver neurotic symptoms. Here we are con- 
cerned with the simple, "normal" mode of development of the 
young girl's ego toward increasing independence. But even 
the most normal preadolescents have their difficulties. The 
simplest expressions of these are disobedience, defiant rebellion 
against educational measures, and rejection of previously ac- 
cepted discipline. These are sometimes accompanied by ex- 
tremely aggressive acts. Occasionally the educational achieve- 
ments of early childhood that have long since become habits, 
begin to regress, and bodily cleanliness, regularity of the excre- 
tory functions, in short, the "somatic order" represented by 
the mother or her substitute, is rebelliously thrown overboard. 
This expresses principally a protest against hitherto existing 
dependence, aggression against educational influences, and, 
paradoxically, ever more intense longing on the part of the 
child for her own childishness. On the one hand, the child 
energetically resists her childishness; on the other, she is trying 
to reach it again by detours. Moved by this longing, she is 
inclined once more to leave to her mother the care of her body. 
The intensification of many oral tendencies, above all gluttony, 
serves as an aggressive gratification of the appetite, which is 
increased by the processes of growth. In all these functions 
the girl struggles against the "interference" of the mother; she 
senses in every one of the latter's gestures an attack on her 
adulthood the mother is the embodiment of the strongest tie 
with the past. 

The struggle for independence in this period strongly reminds 
us of the processes that take place approximately between 
the ages of i and 3 years, in the course of what we call the 
pre-oedipal phase of childhood. In order to take his first 
steps in the outside world, the little child after the utter de- 
pendence of his babyhood, must also disengage himself from his 
mother who carried and later fed him. He no longer wants 


the mother's guiding hand and yet clamors anxiously for one 
finger if she removes her hand during his attempt to walk. 
He becomes enraged when he is not given his spoon to handle 
independently. Very similar is the behavior of the girl in 
prepuberty: full of hatred and rage, she wants to tear herself 
away from her mother's influence, although at the same time 
she frequently betrays an intensified, anxious urge to remain 
under the maternal protection. 

A corresponding process takes place in the mother: in both 
the stages we are comparing, she wants to keep the child under 
her protection and yet she knows that she must lessen and 
in the end desist from this protection. How often are the 
young girl's fears of the dangers threatening her in the outside 
world intensified by similar fears on the part of her mother! In 
many a girl this fear becomes a conviction that the moment 
she is separated from her mother something "terrible" will 
happen either to her or to her mother. We are familiar with 
this fear in pathologic cases, but relatively normal girls often 
display it in a milder form. Prepuberty repeats the pre- 
oedipal phase not only in the struggle for liberation from the 
mother that is the central point of the girl's psychologic life 
at this time. It repeats this phase in other respects too. 
Again the father, loved or rejected, remains in the background 
as a powerful or a weak figure; normally he does not exert any 
considerable influence on the child's psychologic development 
in this period of life. 

Freud raised the problem regarding the manner in which 
the girl's love object changes from mother, hitherto the only 
object of her attachment, to father. Numerous attempts to 
explain this, on the part of Freud and other authors, have been 
based on the assumption that this change is accomplished 
during childhood, but, according to my view, it is never com- 
pletely achieved. In all the phases of woman's development 
and experience, the great part played in her psychologic life 
by her attachment to her mother can be clearly observed. 
Many events in that life are manifestations of attempts to de- 


tach herself, attempts made in thrusts, and the woman's psy- 
chologic equilibrium and eventual fate often depend on the 
success or failure of these attempts. 

Prepuberty is marked by a particularly vigorous thrust 
in this direction, and that is why this phase of growth is so 
important in determining the character of the girl's puberty 
and her subsequent development. A prepuberal attempt at 
liberation from the mother that has failed or was too weak can 
inhibit future psychologic growth and leave a definitely in- 
fantile imprint on the woman's entire personality. In such 
girls puberty lacks its normal revolutionary impetus and 
intensified urge to independence. Their relations to persons 
of both sexes express dependence and a need for support. 
Friendship and love are replaced by passive clinging and a 
querulous demand for love that is difficult to gratify. If 
after prepuberty such infantile girls achieve a more active 
behavior, it is characterized by the play attitude that we 
have seen to be typical of prepuberty with its play acting. 
Such girls renounce all purposeful aspirations the moment they 
encounter difficulties, they belittle everything they do, etc. 
They frequently achieve good results in intellectual and artistic 
fields, but usually these are not expressions of their own 
personalities and are completely dependent upon outside 
influences. Such women tall in love often and ardently, but 
even this emotional activity is largely limited to fantasy and 
retains a playful character. Without a considerable amount 
of tenderness and motherly protection a function in some 
cases taken over by the husband they find life unbearable. 
They are usually inaccessible to psychoanalytic treatment, 
because they cannot endure the renunciations involved in 
analysis. The emotions mobilized by the analysis are im- 
mediately brought into play and the mother transference is 
endowed with a real and hostile character. When they are 
stricken with neurosis, their symptoms are usually manifesta- 
tions of the abnormally intensified relation to the mother 
that was reactivated in prepuberty. Thus for instance various 


alimentary disturbances, from mild upsets to anorexia nervosa 
(rejection of food up to the point of total abstinence), may 
represent a pathologically intensified struggle between the 
extremely infantile tie to the mother and unsuccessful attempts 
at liberation. 

Many cases occur in which prepuberty has apparently been 
normal, but a provocative situation during puberty or some 
later stage brings pathologic reactions to the fore. For in- 
stance, an attempt to reduce that begins with oral renunciations 
may sometimes produce a reaction that leads to obsessive eat- 
ing. This is combated with the greatest energy, and all the 
deep-rooted longing for the mother is mobilized in this fight. 
This longing can assume an extraordinarily infantile form and, 
if it is accompanied by infantile aggression against the mother, 
the ardently desired food becomes poison, and the longing 
can develop into a psychosis. 

In all these cases it is found that, although the alimentary 
neurosis (or psychosis) manifested itself at a later age (fre- 
quently toward the end of adolescence), the normal attempt 
to loosen the tie with the mother encountered difficulties as 
early as in prepuberty. Neurotic illness did not occur at 
that time, but it is clear from later developments that the 
"prepuberal offensive" was either too passive or too aggressive 
with regard to the mother. 

In our discussion of prepuberty we have confined ourselves 
to relatively normal states, but we often find neurotic difficul- 
ties during this phase too. These either are continuations of 
neuroses that existed during childhood or they arise under the 
influence of traumatic experiences, such as the birth of a new 
brother or sister, separation of the parents, death, etc. Most 
frequently the disturbances consist in anxiety states and typical 
feelings of inferiority. Girls in this condition do not feel 
equal to the task of adulthood; but if they are admitted to a 
favorable group or make new friends, their feelings of inferior- 
ity disappear. Behind such feelings deeper motives can 


usually be discovered, as for instance feelings of guilt that may 
mark the beginning of neurotic complications. 

My use of the term "offensive" in this discussion is deliber- 
ate. I wish to emphasize that certain developments of the 
ego are valuable because in an emergency they can serve as 
mechanisms of defense against dangers arising from sexual 
urges. I do not believe, however, that such defense mecha- 
nisms are created exclusively under the pressure of instinctual 
dangers, as weapons against them. In my view these mecha- 
nisms begin to develop before puberty, as offensive weapons for 
the conquest of reality. In fact, any element of personality 
can become a defense mechanism: intelligence as well as 
stupidity, flight into reality as well as flight from reality. 
Aggressiveness can be a defense against passivity and vice 
versa, while masculinity can be a defense against feminine 
masochism; the urge to be an adult is used as a defense against 
the dangers of childhood, the flight into childhood can signify 
a defense against adulthood, etc. 

Similarly, great inventions in chemistry and physics are 
often used as weapons in war, although their primary purpose 
is not military. They still have a value when the war is over, 
and they can then serve better purposes. This is true also of 
certain important ego functions: they are products of normal 
development and can be used as defense mechanisms in danger- 
ous situations; but they perform their most valuable services 
in "peacetime" that is, when used directly for conquering 
the environment. 


Rarly Puberty 

DURING prepuberty, with its intensified activity, the 
young girl's ego attempts to break the fetters of child- 
hood dependency. This attitude continues for many 
years beyond prepuberty, up to adolescence. The girl's struggle 
against her home milieu, still a primitive struggle in prepuberty, 
is the expression of her growing need to oppose her own ego as 
an independent personality to the personalities around her. 
Her consciousness of herself as ego grows increasingly stronger 
and is the prelude to various events that later, in adolescence, 
become more complicated and interesting. Very often we fail 
to realize that the youthful mischievousness we find so negative 
stems from positive forces of growth. The girl whose self- 
confidence is maturing naturally feels for some time that her 
surroundings are obstructive and hostile. In order to further 
the development of her own personality, she must resort to 
methods that are not progressive and mature in themselves but 
that nevertheless aim at progress and maturity. In her deepest 
being the young girl, during prepuberty and for a long period 
during puberty, remains completely childish; she is frightened 
by her own increased self-confidence and her new responsibili- 
ties. Between these two elements heightened self-confidence 
on the one hand and growing perception of her own weakness 
on the other she tries to build a bridge. The numerous imita- 
tions, identifications, devaluations, and revaluations that we 
have noted above serve this purpose. All of them stem from 
the need to fill the growing gap between her greater self-reliance 
and the ever greater demands that reality makes upon her. 
The very fact that the youthful soul feels insecure strengthens 
its active aspiration to master its insecurity. Later, during 
adolescence, it will find better means for achieving this aim. 


As we follow the development of girls from prepuberty to 
adolescence, we can observe, in the period directly following 
prepuberty, certain peculiarities that justify us in giving it the 
special name of "early puberty/' The lines separating this 
phase from thepreceding andthefollowingphases prepuberty, 
and adolescence or advanced puberty are fluid. The transi- 
tion from prepuberty via puberty to adolescence takes place 
gradually through the organic and psychic development of the 
young girl. The most important organic achievement of pu- 
berty is sexual maturation. The biologic factor strongly influ- 
ences the relation of the girl to her own body, and the tendency 
to neglect personal appearance that is so typical of prepuberty, 
is reversed in a most striking manner: the girl begins to devote 
great care to her body; she uses creams, powder, and rouge no 
longer just to imitate the grownups but rather to gratity her 
own very real vanity and need to be beautiful. Dresses, jew- 
elry, and fashionable accessories become so important that the 
young girl is often led to commit unsocial acts in order to 
procure money for these things. 

During the entire latency period the girl's interest in the 
sexual organs recedes into the background. During prepuberty 
her intense curiosity about sexual processes in general directs 
her interest toward her own body. The wish to be a grownup 
and to be considered as such steers her attention toward growth 
and other somatic processes. As a result of this wish, the little 
girl between 10 and 12 years of age welcomes the first signs of 
breast development, stuffs out her blouse, and makes exagger- 
ated reports to her friends about her progress. Thus, she often 
seems more mature and more feminine than her older, already 
menstruating sister, who is so full of the anxiety and shame 
mobilized by the rise of sexual excitation that she is not a bit 
proud of her maturity, is even ashamed of it, and tries to con- 
ceal it by such means as very tight brassieres and other appro- 
priate articles of clothing. 

It is understandable that the girl who during prepuberty 
behaved in a tomboyish way should at first react negatively to 


the developing secondary sex characteristics that give her body 
a teminine appearance. The redistribution of the fat deposits, 
the growing roundness of her hips, the budding of her breasts, 
etc., fill her with vexation and shame. But sometimes a boyish 
girl suddenly gives up her earlier attitude and contemplates her 
new femininity with interest and joy. Conversely, there are 
girls who during prepuberty behave rather passively and 
femininely without displaying any tendency toward tomboyish- 
ness and who, with the progress of puberty and the feminization 
of their bodies, develop a more masculine attitude. Finally, 
there are girls whose development follows a straight line from 
childhood through puberty to adulthood; of such girls their 
families say, "She has always been a little woman. " 

One would expect the activity of the biologic, above all of 
the hormonal forces in puberty to exert a decisive influence on 
the psychologic factors, and this is largely the case. However, 
this activity does not always prove strong enough to master the 
psychologic complications and to steer the process of matura- 
tion in a straight line toward femininity. 

The girl's interest in her genitals, which has long remained 
in the background, is now activated by renewed masturbation 
and even more by menstruation. The psychologic effects of 
learning through experience that the organ bleeds and causes 
discomfort and frustration are extremely strong and varied 
(see chap. iv). Here we limit our discussion to pointing out 
that the role of the female genital organ for the girl is com- 
pletely different from that of the penis for the boy. For him, 
the genital organ is an old acquaintance with which he has 
always been familiar because of its double function. Unlike 
the girl, the boy can become interested in the growth and in- 
tensified sexual functioning of his genitals at an early date and 
be very proud of them. 

But the young girl's diversified behavior during puberty 
depends on still other factors. Her disposition, the vicissitudes 
of her childhood, the influences of her environment, the cultural 
milieu, her intelligence and natural gifts, her methods of over- 


coming anxiety all these create individual variations in the 
girl's personality at this period. It is nevertheless possible to 
distinguish certain general traits; and several types of behavior 
even at this time reveal the personality trend that will later 
characterize the mature woman. 

We defined the prepuberal phase as homosexual, because the 
love object is of the same sex. This choice is expressed in two 
forms: one consists in strong attachment to the mother, in inner 
and outer conflict with her, in the girl's wish to liberate herself 
from her mother, and in the tendency to transfer her feeling for the 
mother to another, ideal woman who acts as a substitute tor 
the mother. The other form is the less conflict-ridden relation 
with a friend. The girl to girl relation that begins during pre- 
puberty passes through various vicissitudes in early puberty, 
and these likewise are strongly influenced by the milieu. Often 
this personal relation ends when the two girls leave the group 
to which they have belonged for instance, when they change 
schools; and at this point the fact that the girls come from 
different social strata may be of great importance. If the 
relation has been close, it may continue despite the change of 
schools, or the separation may be accompanied by more or less 
intense bereavement reactions. But usually the change of 
milieu brings new interests with it, and the last traces of pre- 
puberal friendships disappear. Such an outcome should be 
considered desirable; another and relatively favorable possibil- 
ity is that of continuation of the relation in a sublimated friend- 
ship that does not interfere with further development. 

As we have shown above, the sexual content of the relation 
with a person of the same sex during prepuberty consists 
exclusively in the exchange of secrets and in sexual curiosity. 

Friendship between girls is of the greatest importance. 
Identification with a similar being can strengthen the young 
girl's consciousness that she is an independent ego. Such 
friendships are a source of warm emotional experiences and by 
relieving guilt feelings they create a certain freedom in areas of 
behavior that are still strongly subject to inhibitions. When 


the common activity of the two girls goes beyond the limits of 
the permissible, we often hear accusations on the part of the 
girls' families, in which there is question of who was the "se- 
duced" and who the "seducer." Such accusations are usually 
reciprocal, so that one is confronted with two victims and two 
seducers, and as a rule it is impossible to discover the part 
played by each girl All the accusations have a foundation of 
truth, for each of the girls would in most instances have re- 
nounced the forbidden activity had she not been encouraged 
by the other. 

In spite of certain dangers, the positive aspects of such friend- 
ships are paramount, and lack of them is a serious loss in this 
period of life. The typical trauma of prepuberty and the 
period immediately following is the loss of the friend through 
separation or through her unfaithfulness in favor of another 
girl or of a boy. The deserted girl normally turns to another 
friend. Sometimes she returns to the dependence upon her 
mother that she has only recently given up. Such a return 
may occasion many inhibitions in her development; it can delay 
or completely prevent her psychic maturation. 

Severe anxiety states and neurotic difficulties are not infre- 
quent in early puberty; on several occasions I have observed 
onsets of psychosis in girls who had lost their friends and could 
not find compensation in their mothers. In two of these cases 
the mothers had been dead for a long time, and the mourning 
process that had been postponed set in only after the friends 
had also been lost, in both cases as a result of infidelity. This 
led to the gravest anxiety states and to symptoms that indicated 
extensive infantile regression. These girls had to be fed like 
babies, urinated and moved their bowels in their clothes, talked 
baby talk, clung to their nurses, etc. 

Franz Werfel, in his novel The Son% of Bernadette, 1 has pre- 
sented a beautiful description and an interesting solution of 
such a conflict. Fifteen-year-old Bernadette, who is an 
asthmatic, inhibited, and introverted girl, goes out to gather 

1 WERTEL, F.: The song of Bernadette. New York: Viking, [941. 


wood with her sister Marie and her friend Jeanne. Their home 
is cold and miserable, the children are hungry, and the sickly 
Bernadette has to implore her mother for permission to go out. 
The mother finally agrees, but warns her not to do anything 
that might cause her to catch cold. The three girls reach a 
brook that separates them from a rich tall of wood. Jeanne, 
who is energetic and full of vitality, wades through the icy 
water, and Marie follows her. Bernadette remains on the 
hither side of the river, deserted by both her sister and her 
friend. Upon seeing Marie's bared legs, Bernadette is over- 
whelmed by a sudden feeling of revulsion; this is peculiar, 
because she sleeps in the same bed with her sister. Jeanne, 
who is the overactive, aggressive type of girl, makes fun of the 
weak Bernadette and calls out to her: "The devil take you!" 

Bernadette experiences a flood of emotional reactions so 
violent that she can hardly master them. She replies to 
Jeanne's curse by saying: "You are no longer my friend." 

She reacts to Marie's leaving her by devaluating her sisterly 
love through a feeling of aversion that it is not our task to 
analyze here. Bernadette has no way of asserting her will and 
overcoming her physical weakness, because to wade across the 
cold river would mean to disobey her mother and later to be 
reprimanded and perhaps even beaten by her. Her feeling of 
guilt for not doing her duty and helping to gather the wood 
"she is the oldest and should not shirk" is in conflict with her 
obedience to her mother's orders. 

Bernadette has a strong tendency to self-accusation and she 
can hardly bear the tension of this insoluble conflict. She ex- 
presses her helplessness symbolically, as it were, when she 
removes one stocking but does not remove the other. Then 
she resorts to a method that she has probably often used before, 
whenever reality has become unbearable: she turns away from 
reality and abandons herself to a fantasy, which she experiences 
this time with hallucinatory intensity. The river Gave is no 
longer a river but a dirty, noisy, and dangerous road; the whole 
picture is one of dreadful imminent peril in which Jeanne's 


curse "The devil take you!" is fulfilled. It is not our pur- 
pose here to analyze these symbols, but the real content of 
images such as a wide, dirty, dangerous road is well known to 
us from the anxieties of pubescent girls. Then Bernadette 
emerges from the devil's power and has the great experience 
that determines her future: in the dark grotto of Massabielle, 
"the lady" appears to her. Here is the fulfillment of her need 
to love a woman who can replace both her lost friend and her 
mother, the latter being unsuitable as a love object because she 
is a source of punishments and prohibitions. 

Bernadette does not turn her longing and love toward the 
woman of her hallucination in religious ecstasy, as one might 
think. Actually she conceives her quite realistically, simply 
as "the lady," an earthly being with whom she will from now on 
enter into an ardent love relation. Bernadette's relation with 
her lady differs from the usual young girl's love for an idealized 
women only in that the lady is a product of fantasy. This 
difference is diminished by the fact, mentioned above, that in 
the case of other girls too the loved woman often has no actual 
objective reality value, tor they know her very little, sometimes 
only from a picture or casual personal impression. Subjec- 
tively, however, the role of such an ideal is all the more impor- 
tant. As with Bernadette, it is a substitute for the lacking or 
lost friend, and often a compromise solution between the long- 
ing for the mother and the defense against an attachment to 
the latter that cannot be gratified or is dangerous. The lady's 
love frees little Bernadette from her feelings of guilt. Later 
the lady, by such modest means as nodding, smiling, or making 
little gestures of displeasure, points out ways in which Berna- 
dette can remain free of guilt feelings, thus satisfying a need 
that she shares with many young girls. The realistic character 
of Bernadette's fantasy love, humanly true and not super- 
humanly divine, is the most fascinating element in Franz 
Werfel's heroine. 

We know that the friendship of children of the same sex in- 
volves many dangers. One is mutual seduction into imper- 


missible acts as a result of release from guilt feelings; another 
is eventual fixation of homosexual tendencies and the influence 
that these may exert later on the course of psychosexual devel- 
opment during adolescence. 

We have mentioned before that the friendship of two girls 
often continues in a typical fashion after the appearance of the 
first heterosexual tendencies in early puberty. A triangular 
situation arises, lending to this phase a bisexual character. The 
young girl still wavers between homosexual and heterosexual 
objects, and her turn toward heterosexual! ty is accomplished 
only gradually. This triangular constellation may be inaugu- 
rated in prepuberty, as in the common love of two girls for 
their teacher or leader. The first groping excursions in the 
direction of heterosexuality are playfully undertaken in com- 
mon. The girls take pleasure in experiences that they can 
exchange with each other. As they grow older, various 
complications take place within the triangle. The more 
mature of the two girls begins to be more serious about the 
partner of the other sex, and the more passive or younger girl 
assumes the role of sympathetic matchmaker and helper. This 
otten occurs in a triangle in which a brother of one of the girls 
occupies one angle. A good example can be found in Tolstoy's 
W ar and Peace? Natasha strives to win the love of her brother 
Nicholas for her friend Sony a: 

"You know, Sonya is my dearest friend. Such a friend that I burned 
my arm for her sake. Look here." She pulled up her muslin sleeve and 
showed him a red scar on her long, delicate arm. "I burned this to prove 
my love for her. I just heated a ruler in the fire and pressed it there. . . . 
We are such friends, such friends. . . . And she loves me and you like that/' 

Natasha loves her brother very much and obviously yields 
him to her friend with mixed feelings. As the third partner in 
their love relation, she can retain both her friend and her 
brother and can solve the conflict better by sharing their happi- 

* TOLSTOY, L.: War and peace. Transl. by Louisejmd Aylmcr Maude. New York: 
Simon & Schuster, 1942. 


ness than by a painful renunciation. The masochistic element 
may well be noted here. 

Further development toward heterosexuality in early pu- 
berty will depend upon the successful overcoming of bisexuality 
in the triangular situation. The biologic and psychic develop- 
ments in this period of life display far reaching parallelism. 
But the processes do not unfold according to a prearranged 
schedule. The phases become mixed, and the intensification 
of sexual tendencies occasioned by biologic growth may under 
certain circumstances manifest itself in a regressive torm. 

If the prepuberty phase repeats the pre-oedipal infantile 
period, the triangular situation of early puberty repeats a 
phase that occurs in childhood between the pre-oedipal and 
oedipal periods. At that time the little girl gradually turns 
from her almost exclusive attachment to her mother toward her 
father, wavers between the two, and wants to have them both, 
until finally she turns toward her father with greater intensity, 
although still not exclusively. In early puberty this bisexual 
triangle recurs, and if regressive forces succeed in asserting 
themselves, the young girl finds herself in a situation similar 
to that of the bisexual period of early childhood. At that time 
the triangle was formed by the parents and child; now the 
objects are different but similar difficulties and problems arise. 

^he Child* a masterful short story by Karin Michaelis, is 
an example of a poet's intuitive insight into the psychologic 
processes of young girls. Andrea, the "child" who is loved by 
everyone, is on her deathbed. She is 16 years old, actually a 
grown-up girl. But in her psychologic development she is still 
a child, with all the struggles and conflicts of a pubescent girl. 
Andrea's parents have for a long time been estranged; they are 
enemies living under one roof, and they know that "Andrea 
seems to see into our very thoughts." For the sake of the sick 
child, the two parents go hand in hand into her room, and 
Andrea smiles. "You come in so nicely, you two," she says. 

8 MICHAELIS, K.: Das Kind. Transl. from the Danish by M. Mann. Berlin: Axel 


She has little parties with them, and they pretend not to hate 
each other for the sake of their sick and dying daughter. 

"What will you do when you are alone? ... If only I knew 
that you would be happy with each other . . . if only you wanted 
to kiss each other every morning, and you both slept in here 
and thought of me. . . . If only I knew that, I would not be in 
the least afraid of . . ." Andrea's last wish on her deathbed is 
that her parents should be reconciled; it is as though she was 
giving her life to unite them by her death. 

Experience teaches us how often and how intensely even 
healthy children are dominated by the idea that their parents 
do not love each other and that they will eventually separate. 
This idea may be a product of fantasy or stem from direct ob- 
servation. The little girl would gladly remain with her father, 
but her sense of guilt usually induces her to decide in iavor of 
her mother. Thus the sense of guilt often creates pressure in 
the direction of homosexual or at least bisexual behavior, for 
the normally developed girl naturally wishes to give her love to 
her father, but feels obliged to show loving faithfulness to 
her mother. 

The sick Andrea is blissful in the arms of her father: "Kiss 
me, Daddy, my magnificent, splendid father, put your hand on 
my forehead, then we will be silent together/' In the face of 
imminent blindness, she says: "Father, if I really become blind, 
it won't matter much . . . couldn't we both do with one pair of 
eyes?" But then her deep longing for her mother expresses 
itself: "Mother, you're not so far away; if only I make myself 
quite small and thin, can I come to you?" 

The mother takes her in her arms, as when she was a baby at 
the breast, and Andrea presses close against her. Thus little 
endrea dies, and the last moments of her life are spent in an 
Aftort to obtain a promise from her parents that after herdeath, 
and because of it, they will find each other again and remain 

Later the mother discovers Andrea's diary, in which the 
child confesses her great love for her father; she would rather 


renounce heaven, she writes, than her father. "But mother is 
pious and she should go to heaven. . . . When I put my hand on 
Father's forehead, I can feel that we belong together as closely 
as a pair of eyes. He has exactly the same likes and dislikes 
as I have and, just like me, he won't eat peas and meat soup." 
She confesses that she has listened at night and knows that her 
parents sleep apart. "Father could be a little in love with 
Mother, she is certainly very much in love with him, but I 
can't stand the fact that she always questions me about what 
we talked about when we went walking together. . . ." Andrea 
suspected her father of having a mistress and went through all 
the torments of jealousy. She experienced triumphant joy 
upon learning that her suspicions were unjustified. But she 
refused carnations from her father "unless he bought flowers 
for Mother too." In another diary entry she writes: "If only 
I could live one day with Father and the other with Mother, 
for each separately is so lovely! It's only when they are to- 
gether that I am quite miserable and chilly." 

As Andrea grew older, the triangle reappeared in a different 
form; instead of her father, her love object was now his brother: 
"I could not possibly touch another man, perhaps Uncle Steffen, 
but then he is father's brother." This love matured and prom- 
ised her real happiness, when the shadow of her consuming 
passion for the girl Josse fell over it, and the triangle Andrea- 
mother-father was repeated in a new form. Her diary records: 

No one can get the better of Josse, she is incredibly strong, yesterday 
she bit me in the neck because I said I loved Uncle Steffen as much as her. 
Josse hates Uncle Steffen, she wants him to be dead; it's a pity they can't 
love each other as I love them. . . . All men love Josse, old ones and young 
ones, they don't want to live without her, they want to lie like dust at her 
feet. , . . Now we've made a bet for Steffen's heart. This was a betrayal 
on my part. She is to go to him and bring him my greetings and I must 
not tell him of our bet. We talked so much about him, and it was night 
and the moon was shining, and then I moved over to Josse because I was 
so scared. We said so many good things about him. Then she said: 
"He is not like the others, I want to have him." Now he really ought to 
love her. Josse says she knows she will win. I dreamed that she bit 


my heart because I loved him better. The blood ran out. Father 
Mother, Uncle Steffen and Josse I shall die. 

If Andrea had remained alive she might have become in- 
volved in triangular situations again and again. As a result of 
her deep wish to have her father for herself, combined with her 
childish love for her mother, she separated her parents in her 
fantasy in order later to reconcile them by her suffering and 

When she repeated the triangle in her relation with Josse and 
Steften, her love for the girl was more violent, and heavily 
tinged with the masochistic desire for suffering; and this time 
instead of renouncing her father's carnations for the sake of her 
mother, she must give up the heart of the man she loves to her 
hated and passionately loved "friend." This is a poetic repre- 
sentation of the bisexual wavering of puberty in its character of 
a repetition of the old relation to the parents. Andrea dies 
amidst a tragic complication of her triangular problems. It is 
interesting to note that the intuitive Mme. Michaelis called her 
book Ihe Child. Because of her sickness and proximity to 
death, Andrea certainly was more childish than girls usually are 
at her age; hence the repetition of the triangular situation of 
her childhood has a more na'ive, childish, regressive character, 
and is acted out very strongly and directly in her relation to her 
parents. Normally this repetition in early puberty is less 
direct and less intense, especially if the young girl has reached 
her sixteenth year of age. 

Many tasks confront the young girl in puberty. In addition 
to the still uncompleted task of resolving her ties with her 
family, she must free herself from too strong ties with other 
girls and break up the new triangular situation in favor of the 
male. In contrast to the circumstances of prepuberty, when 
all these emotional relations were present, though in a less 
intense form, the situation in early puberty is much sharper 
and surrounded by numerous dangers. The sexual urges are 
strengthened but they still lack a direct goal. As a result, all 


the relations are subject to the danger of sexualization. The 
atmosphere of the home is much more pregnant with conflicts 
than during prepuberty, the period of naive protests and rela- 
tions with girl friends; the love for an older woman becomes 
disquieting because of the sexual danger, and numerous inter- 
nal and external difficulties obstruct progress toward hetero- 
sexuality. In addition to the numerous individual defense 
mechanisms formed previously, 4 puberty puts in operation 
methods that have a more general character and that are of the 
greatest importance. 

The ever more oppressive and unbearable situation in the 
parental home creates in the child the need to be free and to 
belong to a group different from the family. This can come 
about through the child's joining a group composed of members 
of one sex or of both. In the lower social strata, under the 
influence of youthful adventurousness, such a group can often 
assume the form of a disorderly or even criminal gang. Yet 
it also can perform important functions of social adjustment 
and facilitate solution of the individual problems of youth by 
a collectivist ideology. However, there is always the danger 
that individual characteristics and emotional developments will 
come oflf badly in this process. It is interesting to note that in 
such groups the behavior of the girl is markedly different from 
that of the boy. The boy, from earliest puberty, tries to form 
prerevolutionary or revolutionary communities pitted against 
the power of the grownups who, in his view, enslave him. At 
first aggressive unions are formed against the"tyrannic" teacher, 
and the weapon of petty mischievous attacks is used to annoy 
and anger him. Later, political and ideologic groups are 
formed. The young girl, unless she has an ambition to vie 
with the boys, displays a much stronger inclination to form 
particular friendships and triangles within the group. Thus 
she partly avoids the danger of having her individual qualities 
and emotional growth frustrated. 

4 BLOS, P.: The adolescent personality. Appleton-Century, 1941. 


One of the less commendable methods of breaking the tie 
with the parental home, and one that is frequently used in 
puberty, is actual flight. Such flights often end in return and 
reconciliation; sometimes, however, as we shall see in one case, 
they lead to tragedy. This flight from home is resorted to most 
often when the girl's relation with her friend has been disturbed 
or when her attempt to join a group has failed. From the 
material at our disposal it seems that heterosexual eroticism 
rarely provides an immediate motive for flight in early puberty. 
Sometimes one gets the impression that such a motive is present, 
especially if the flight is accompanied by heterosexual actions. 
Actually, such actions are induced by the girl's general sexual 
disquiet, usually without the presence of a real heterosexual 
impulse. 7 his is characteristic of early puberty. 

Neurotic illness is a more complicated solution. In favorable 
cases this may appear as a temporary disturbance of puberty, 
in less favorable cases it may represent a malady protracted for 
many years. 

Clinical observations will reveal to us the traumatic liabilities 
of puberty, and will serve for objective illustration of the theo- 
retic assumptions of psychoanalysis. 

The following case histories were recorded as objectively as 
possible by physicians and social workers that is, they were 
not selected, prepared, or arranged for purposes of psycho- 
analytic interpretation. Except for some degree of conden- 
sation, they follow almost literally the wording of the records. 
Some modifications have been made for the sake of concealing 
the identities of the patients and from other considerations of 
discretion, but nothing essential has been changed. 


Evelyn is a 1 4-year-old girl who was referred to the clinic by 
the social service department of a Boston hospital. She had 
been running away from home and had stayed away nights on 
a number of occasions. The following history was obtained 
by the social worker in the case. 


Evelyn is the fourth of seven children, and the mother is expecting 
another baby soon. She has three older sisters, younger twin brothers, 
and a younger sister. The parents are of middle-class Scotch origin, 
and it is obvious that they are struggling financially. The mother, who 
seems to dominate in the family, appears careworn and much older than 
she actually is; she has a shrewd intelligence, is energetic, and evidently 
has some ambitions for her children, for she wants them all to complete 
high school training. She is very strict but encourages them to bring 
their friends home and to dance and play cards; there are a number of boy 
friends coming to the house. Apparently the mother is tolerant as long 
as she can observe what is going on; however, she seems to be easily excit- 
able and at times quite irritable. She is very secretive with the children 
as far as sex problems are concerned. She has never given them any 
sex information and has forbidden infantile masturbation. Nor has she 
told them that she is going to have another child. She obviously resents 
her frequent pregnancies and woman's lot in life; at the same time she 
seems to get considerable satisfaction from having children. 
x The father looks very young and immature. The mother treats him 
almost like one of the children. He seems quiet and much less excitable 
than she; however, once aroused, he becomes furious and it takes him a 
long time to get over his angry feelings. Evelyn seems to have been his 
favorite until the twins were born (Evelyn was 7 years old at the time). 
Until then he spoiled her and "gave her everything she wanted." 

According to the mother, Evelyn was not a planned baby. Both 
parents would have welcomed a boy and were disappointed when this 
fourth girl arrived. She was a healthy, attractive baby. Her physical 
development was normal. At the age of 10 she fell downstairs, injured 
her arm, and had to have prolonged treatment. At that time she appears 
to have developed an anxiety state; for a week she screamed and cried 
whenever the mother left the house, and subsequently she often cried "to 
get her own way." Apart from this, however, she was a good-natured, 
likable, somewhat docile child. At the age of 12 she began to menstruate 
and shortly thereafter developed her present difficulties. She took to 
leaving home and staying away overnight. The mother does not know 
why. The first time she did it the police found her and brought her back. 
Since then there have been numerous similar escapades; the mother cannot 
remember when each of them happened. Once Evelyn was gone for 
three days. They looked all over for her and finally found her hidden 
in the attic. She had been without food all that time. 

She then behaved normally from the fall of 1941 till August, 1942. 
At that time the mother was away with the younger children, having left 
Evelyn with the father. One night the young girl came home verv late. 


On that occasion the father hit her for the first time. Afterward, the 
mother learned that she had been out dancing with some sailors. (Subse- 
quent venereal tests were negative.) After the mother returned, Evelyn 
went away for three or four days. 

The mother does not know where the girl goes or what she does during 
these periods, but thinks that she usually stays by herself. She either 
returns home or is found wandering in the streets or at a friend's. She 
seems to have a compulsion to leave the house even when tired, for she 
comes home thoroughly exhausted and sleeps heavily. Shortly before the 
time of this history, Evelyn stole for the first time. She took Jio from a 
friend of her mother's who lives upstairs. She spent part of it, lost part 
of it, and brought back a few dollars. She cried and said she did not 
know why she had taken the money. She just saw it lying there and 
took it, and then did not know what to do with it. There has been no 
recurrence of stealing. 

Coincident with the development of these difficulties, there has been 
an increasing lack of interest and a slump in the girl's school work. The 
mother has no explanation for all this. At times she feels that Evelyn's 
early illnesses are the cause of her present behavior: "It's affecting her 
now that she is fourteen." 

On another occasion she expressed the opinion that the family's removal 
from their previous neighborhood, and the ensuing illnesses of the other 
children, who thus required her attention, as well as the coming of the 
twins, may have been contributing factors. At other times she expressed 
bewilderment and asked for help in understanding Evelyn. 

The mother says that Evelyn is not lazy, but helpful in the house when 
she wants to be. She shows a special interest in cooking and took a great 
deal of responsibility when one of the twins was in her charge. She goes 
to church but is not bound up with any activities there. She likes movies 
and "love story magazines," seems to have a number of friends of both 
sexes, and is lively in a group. At one period, when she was between 
3 and 5 years of age, she had nightmares; she would wake up screaming, 
dreaming of snakes, fire engines, and deformed people. She always pre- 
ferred her father, but he could not quiet her at such times, while the mother 
could. The mother thinks that Evelyn is not really interested in boy 
friends. There are a number of nice boys who call her up, but she won't 
go out with them because she thinks they are too tame. The mother says 
that she cannot understand how Evelyn has escaped having sex experience, 
going around with sailors as she does. She thinks that Evelyn has got sex 
information from other children and through reading. Evelyn formerly 
had a lot of friends but the mother forbade her to associate with her group, 
as they "are the kind who sit in doorways and smoke." Evelyn formerly 


shared a bedroom with Mary, but since Mary has a boy friend^ Evelyn 
wants a place for herself, so the mother has fixed tip a bedroom for her in the 

The mother describes Anna, her oldest child, as quick-tempered and ner- 
vous; Mary is her favorite, and everybody likes this girl. Lucy is more like 
Evelyn: she is secretive, keeps to herself, and from time to time runs away 
and stays with her aunt and uncle. She says that Evelyn and Lucy are both 
trials to her because they are so secretive. The father is now very angry with 
Evelyn; he has turned against her completely and won't even talk to her. He 
is withholding her allowance and feels that they should be very strict with her. 
The mother shows great resentment against Evelyn and feels that she must 
give the father full control now and let him handle the situation, because she 
does not know how to do it herself. With marked feeling she said that Evelyn 
seems to have changed overnight from a nice, docile child into a grown-up 
person who is interested in boys and make-up. She has no use for her. 
Like the father, she intensely dislikes her using so much lipstick. The father 
told her that she looks like a tramp. She says that they have tried everything 
they can think of and have done their best according to their lights, but there 
is something there they know nothing about. 

In these interviews with the parents it is evident that they want to do their 
best, but that they are overwhelmed by the ambivalence of their feelings 
toward Evelyn. Sometimes they have quite a good understanding of her, and 
try to be kind and tolerant, at other times they feel they should be severe and 
discipline her. Sometimes it seems that Evelyn is beginning to adjust at 
home, but she suddenly runs away just before something nice that was 
planned for her by her parents a party or movie, for example can be carried 


Evelyn is an attractive, red-haired girl who, despite her earrings, necklace, 
and heavy make-up, gives an impression of sturdiness and tomboyishness. 
She is sullen, wary, and very tense, but talks easily and willingly. She de- 
scribes people vividly and makes objective evaluations of them that are aston- 
ishingly mature and well thought out. Although apprehensive and resentful, 
she displays wit and an appreciation of dramatic values. She says that she 
came to the clinic because she had run away and it was suggested that she be 
brought there. Her mother thought that she might have to go to jail or to a 
reform school. 

Evelyn is the fourth of five girls and has twin brothers, George and Bill, 
aged 7. Anna, the oldest, is 20. Lucy, aged 16, is the favorite of her uncle 
and aunt; she moved to their home and did not even return to visit until her 
mother told her that she could not stay there unless she came to see her 


parents once a week. "Don't you think that's kind of funny?" Evelyn said. 
"She just moved right out." 

Mary, aged 17, is Evelyn's favorite, and up until the last year, when 
Mary acquired a boy friend, they were very close friends. Tom visits Mary 
or takes her out almost every evening, and Evelyn and Mary did not go out 
together even on Halloween, as they had planned. Louise is 4 years old and 
very pretty but terribly spoiled; she is in Anna's special charge. George is 
the twin whom Evelyn took care of from the time he was a baby, and he liked 
her best. Now he is a tough little boy and doesn't seem to like her any more. 
Bill, who was Mary's particular charge, is a very sweet and clever little boy. 
Evelyn spoke of how considerate he is: when she had a headache recently, Bill 
said he was sorry and asked her why she did not go to bed. She added: 
"Catch George saying anything like that. He wouldn't care if you had ten 

Evelyn said that her father works for Montgomery Ward and Company, 
that he is 39 years old and a very nice-looking man. "He's red-haired like 
me", she said. "Louise, George, and I take after him in looks. The others 
are dark, like mother. He always gave us everything. He wasn't like other 
fathers. He never beat us. But lately he is more strict. Maybe he is older 
and wiser now." 

Her mother is a quietjolly woman when she is happy. "But sometimes she 
can holler and argue all the time. Nothing I do suits her and she's awfully 
mad at me now." 

When asked what particularly had upset her mother, Evelyn said that she 
thought it was probably the gang. She and her mother had always got along 
fine until two years before, when the family moved from North Cambridge to 
South Boston. Evelyn missed her old friends but finally met a group of boys 
and girls about two years older than herself. The girls wore slacks and had a 
great deal of fun: "We can do everything the boys can do. Jane is one of the 
leaders. She's a crippled girl and she thinks she's pretty tough, but she is not 
so awfully tough. I can fight, too, even if I am little." 

She said that this group gathered at various homes, went to movies and 
parties together, went roller skating, etc. She didn't think it was much fun 
to pair off and she liked doing things in the gang. Sometimes they rang fire 
alarms "Don't tell my mother; she doesn't know that" but did nothing 
worse. One of the boys she liked especially had gone into the navy the week 
before. She didn't unsually go out with boys alone, although her mother was 
willing to let her, because she liked the gang better. Two boys come to see 
her, and her mother can't understand why she doesn't go cut with them. 
She explained: "If she knew them the way I do, she wouldn't want me to go." 

Evelyn said that she was in the second year of high school, that she was 
particularly interested in cooking, and that after she graduated she wanted 


to go to trade school to take a course in catering. She said spontaneously: 
"I want to earn my own living. I am not going to get married and have 
children. I am going to get things for myself and have them as I like them." 

In another interview the girl began to talk rapidly about an argument she 
had had with her mother that morning. She said that her mother had kept 
her in all the weekend and that she had refused to do her work that morning. 
She said: "I think she hates me, and I hate her, too." She said the children 
at school think that it is bad to dislike one's mother, but she added: "I am not 
the only one. All of us plan to get away. We can't wait." 

She said that the four girls had plans for having an apartment together, 
and added that Lucy had not left home for nothing. She continued to express 
great resentment toward her mother, told of frequent beatings, said that of 
late her father had been stricter and that she could not wait until she was 16, 
when she would be able to go to work and leave home. She said that one day 
her mother threw a shoe at her; the heel struck her temple and she was 
knocked out. She said that her mother was very quick-tempered and did 
things without thinking, but sometimes she did the wrong thing when she had 
plenty of time to think it over. 

She then talked again about her gang and particularly about Helen Green, 
a 21-year-old sailor's wife with whom she had gone out only a couple of times. 

By the end of the interview she was again friendly and appeared relieved 
to have talked as freely about her mother as she had. 

Another day Evelyn came to the clinic fifteen minutes late. She apolo- 
gized and said frankly that she had overslept. She said that her family had 
taken her allowance of 50 cents a week away from her and had kept her in. 
She said that the only thing that had saved her from being bored to death was 
that three boys came to visit her. She said: "My father scowls at me now. 
All I want to do is to get out of there. I can't wait until I am sixteen." 

She said that she had had a card from her sailor friend, but he never gave 
his address; he moved around so much that she guessed that he couldn't be 
reached. She is sorry, because she would like to write to him. She then 
added: "My mother doesn't trust me, you know. She never did. I don't 
blame her, but if she knew how the gang trusted me, she would be surprised. 
They used to earn money doing little things, and they gave it to me to keep. 
I always wondered what my mother would say if she found the money." 

At the next interview, Evelyn was untidy: two of the buttons on her blouse 
were missing, there was a large spot on her skirt, her hair looked uncombed. 
She wore no make-up. She apologized for the way she looked, saying that 
her mother would not let her wear make-up any more and she knew she looked 
like a ghost. 

When the physical examinations were given to her, she cooperated well 
and was interested in the different tests. She is decidedly left-handed, al- 


though she writes with her right hand, and she is definitely right-eyed. When 
asked about her menstrual periods, she remarked that she had not known 
anything about menstruation when her periods began, but that she had gone 
to ask Anna, who told her that all girls had it and that bad blood had to go 
somewhere. Evelyn then laughed and said: ''The doctor has since told me 
what it is all about, so I know now that Anna didn't have the right idea." 

Evelyn was taking her psychologic tests and was quite interested in them 
and pleased that she had done well. Her school course was mentioned, since 
the psychologic tests indicated that she could do more academic work than 
is required in the commercial course. She says frankly that she knows that 
she cooks well, and that some work involving cooking would probably be best 
for her, but she is not going to learn catering, "no matter what anyone says.*' 
The question of whether she might not be able to take some other work that 
would utilize her interest in cooking was brought up, and she was greatly 
interested and said that she would like to find out something more about 
courses in nutrition or dietetics. 

Evelyn then began to speak spontaneously about her mother, expressing 
considerable resentment of the fact, which she had just learned, that her 
mother was going to have another baby. She said: "She did not tell me, 
of course. She told Lucy and Mary." 

Evelyn said that Anna had told them all several weeks ago that she knew 
her mother was going to have a baby, but they did not believe it. Evelyn 
commented: "I think seven is enough, don't you? But if we are going to 
have a baby, I hope it's a girl." She then went on to speak of how grouchy 
her mother was, commenting: "Of course she doesn't feel well now, and she 
is more nervous because of the baby, but she was always grouchy. She and 
Anna fight something terrible. I don't get along with Anna myself, but I 
hate the way my mother treats her. The other day Anna got up late, so my 
mother scolded her and Anna answered her back, and my mother, who had 
been cutting bread, took the knife and struck Anna with it in the shoulder. 
It drew blood in three places. She has a terrible temper." 

Evelyn then complained about her mother's close supervision and distrust 
of her. She asked the physician if she did not think that it was all right to 
have a little privacy about one's own things. Without waiting for an answer, 
she went on to say that Lucy would not allow her mother to go through her 
pocketbook and that the mother was a little scared of Lucy. Evelyn said 
that some day they were all going to gang up on the mother, that she might 
be murdered some day. She then said that she was never going to get mar- 
ried. She asked the physician whether she was married. When told she was 
not, Evelyn commented: "Well, you get along all right, don't you?" 

Two weeks later Evelyn completed her psychologic tests. She was obvi- 
ously fatigued and somewhat discouraged about her efforts. She said that 


the only new thing that had happened at home was that her father and 
mother had had a row on the previous night. Her father came home late for 
supper and her mother chided him, telling him to get his own meal. He lost 
his temper, and, among other things, shouted to his wife that she let Evelyn 
go out and stay out, so why should she yell at him. Evelyn commented: 
"He is like a kid. Imagine him saying a thing like that. Can you beat it 1 
My mother runs the roost in our house, but my father lets her." 

She spoke contemptuously about this incident but at the same time ap- 
peared worried about it. She did not mention the new baby except when 
commenting on the mother's irritability. In this connection she said that the 
mother was always telling the girls to be more considerate of her in view of her 
condition. Evelyn remarked: "She is never considerate of anybody, anyway. 
Why should we be considerate of her?" 

Evelyn was worried about her Italian course. She was not getting along 
well with the teacher who, she felt, was unjust to her, and her inclination was 
to drop the course. She had been talking with her sophomore sponsor, but 
they could not find another course she could take that would give her five 
points. The physician suggested that Evelyn might find considerable satis- 
faction in studying her Italian a little harder, mastering it, and thus making a 
better impression on the teacher, to which Evelyn made no comment. 

At the next interview, a week later, Evelyn was more composed and 
talked in a more mature manner than ever before. Her clothes were untidy 
and her face and neck not quite clean. She wore pearl earrings and a large 
necklace. She spoke spontaneously about the new baby, saying she could 
hardly wait for it to be born She had been shopping with her mother and 
was delighted to pick out baby clothes. She thinks it is a good thing that she 
is interested in the baby, because no one else in the family really is. Her 
mother is divided in the things she says about the baby. The father thinks 
it is a nuisance and the other girls also think another baby will be a bother. 
She can see why her mother is not entirely enthusiastic, because she was very 
ill during her last two pregnancies and a small baby will greatly increase her 
household burdens. She also sees some reason for her father's attitude, be- 
cause he has a hard time supporting seven children. She hopes that the baby 
is a boy, because otherwise it will have a hard time in their household. 

Evelyn then turned to the subject of Helen Green, the 21-year-old married 
girl, with whom on several occasions she had gone to a place of ill repute. 
This place seems very intriguing and mysterious to young people because it is 
frequented by prostitutes and soldiers. Evelyn said that she had been curious 
about the place and was greatly disappointed to find that it did not look very 
wicked. Helen had given Evelyn her birth certificate so that the young girl 
could avoid the curfew restriction. She and Helen went into one of the grills, 
and there were soldiers and sailors and all kinds of women there, but the place 


did not look very different from any other grill. "Of course," she added, 
"there were lots of those cheap women around. Gee, the way they pile on 
the make-up. It's not hard to spot them a mile off." 

She smiled and agreed when the physician pointed out that the opposition 
that mothers have to their daughters* using too much make-up is connected 
with this very fact. She then went on to talk about Helen Green's appear- 
ance, of how she was never quite clean, of how there was always a button or 
two missing from her dress, and of how she put on powder and perfume in 
stead of bathing. Helen Green is married to a sailor who is at sea, but she 
goes out with many men, and Evelyn expressed definite disapproval of this 
behavior. She said that she thought that Helen had no business getting mar- 
ried if she was going to carry on like that. Anna has a new boy friend who 
is a sergeant in the army. He is a big cowboy from Oklahoma, stationed at 
P camp, and he came to Boston on his furlough to spend the time with Anna. 
Evelyn's mother asked him to supper one night and they all enjoyed having 
him. Evelyn describes him as a tall, rather shy, very nice young man, the 
kind she would like to marry if she ever married. She observed that he was 
not "smooth," but would make a very good husband, and with someone like 
that a woman could have peace and quiet in her home. She declared that 
she was determined to have such a home whether or not she married. She 
did not want quarrels and yelling, because she had had enough of that. She 
had decided to continue with her Italian, although she still was not getting 
along with her teacher. 

Some days later Evelyn ran away from home at night and came to the 
clinic early the next morning. She said little except that she would not go 
home and that she was hungry. She appeared exhausted, was sullen, very 
tense, and rather uncommunicative, and kept saying that she would not go 
home, She said that nothing had happened to make her run away; on the 
preceding day she had played hooky and spent the day with her friend Rose. 
She left Rose's house at 1 1 o'clock at night and suddenly decided she could not 
return to her own home. She sat on Rose's front porch all night and came to 
the clinic in the morning because she did not know what else to do. Arrange- 
ments were made for her to go temporarily to a foster home, and Evelyn said 
that she would like to do that. 

Five days later Evelyn came in, still sullen and a little reticent. She said 
that the only thing she was certain of was that she could not go home. She 
asked whether we could not find her a permanent foster home. The physician 
talked with her about some of the difficulties she would have in adjusting her- 
self to a foster home, but she repeated that she would have to try it, since she 
could not go back to her own family. She finally burst out: "They do not 
want me there. The other night when they thought I was asleep, I overheard 
my father and mother talking about me. My mother asked him why he did 


not give me back my allowance, and he shouted that he would not give me my 
allowance nor anything else ever again." 

Two days later Evelyn made up her own mind that she would not miss any 
further school work. She had lost her way the day before and had not 
arrived at the foster home in which she had been placed until 6 o'clock. She 
had little to say about this home except that she was a little lonely there. 
She said that on the previous night when Kate Smith began to sing "White 
Christmas" she got homesick and had to run upstairs to cry. She said very 
seriously that she felt that she could not go to her own home, but that she 
was unhappy being away. She observed that it must be her own fault, 
because her sisters live through the same things she does and they manage to 
stand it better. She does not know why she feels the way she does about 
home and about her mother. One thing that makes her very angry is that her 
mother goes through her pocketbook. "She should talk about secrets!" she 
said. "She is the one that has secrets! We did not even know her age until 
two years ago." 

That day she appeared no longer sullen but friendly and earnest in her 
attitude. She talked willingly with her physician about the necessity of learn- 
ing more about herself, so that she could find out what forces inside her made 
her react as she did. And when the physician suggested that she could not 
always run away from things, she smiled and said that she knew that. 

Ten days later Evelyn was subdued and very serious. She said that she 
did not want to stay any longer in the foster home, although the presence of 
a new girl there had helped her a little. She still believed that she should stay 
away from home, but she missed the kids and the fun. She talked at consid- 
erable length about how hard it would be for her away from home, but kept 
repeating that she did not see how she could do anything about it. 

Five days later Evelyn was still more discouraged and subdued, admitting 
readily that she was lonesome, unhappy about the holidays, but still deter- 
mined not to go home. To take up her spare time she is writing the story of 
her life. She plans to tell the truth for the most part, but to touch it up a 
little so that it will be more interesting. Maybe she will be able to sell it to a 
magazine. She laughed as she said this and added that she had started the 
biography with a statement that she was born during the first year of the 
great depression, although she was actually born the year before. "But," 
she argued, "you have to make things interesting if you want to sell them." 

The physician suggested that she adhere to the truth as much as possible, 
because writing such a story might help her a great deal in solving her prob- 
lems. She said that she realized this and that she remembered one thing that 
she had not thought of in years. When she was 6 years old, her mother had 
lost her pocketbook. The family was discussing the loss one day when her 
uncle was there. His behavior struck Evelyn as funny, and she giggled. 


He quickly turned upon her and said: "You are the one who stole the 

The mother promptly took up this accusation and would not listen to the 
girl's denials. Bitterly, Evelyn observed: "Even then, you see, she was 
against me." 

Evelyn had not been regular in her school attendance since she had gone 
to the foster home. She said that she knew this was not good, but several 
things she needed for her classes were in her own house. Her family had not 
brought these things to her, and she did not want to explain to the teachers 
that she was not living at home. She is concerned about her future and asked 
the physician if she thought she would ever amount to anything. The im- 
portance of her school work for her future plans was discussed, and she main- 
tained that she not only wanted to finish high school but also to take further 
work in some branch of nutrition science. 

The physician asked her whether she would like to go home for Christmas 
and she said in a surprised tone of voice, "Oh, yes. If they want me. It's 
up to them to decide." 

Ten days later Evelyn came to the clinic very gaily. She appeared happy 
and self-confident. She said that she had gone home Christmas Eve and was 
still there. She was going to stay home until New Year's anyway, possibly 
for good. Everyone there was so nice to her that she felt like visiting 
royalty, but she did not know how long it would last. She and Lucy had 
quarreled a little bit, but it did not mean anything. She said that it was good 
to be home and that she had never realized before how much she liked her 
home. She said that she felt so sorry for Elizabeth (the 1 6-year-old girl at 
the foster home) because Elizabeth has no home and no family. 

Evelyn thinks that the main trouble with her is that she has done things 
for which she is not yet really old enough. The summer before, when her 
mother was away on vacation, she started going out with older boys and girls. 
She sees now that this was a mistake, but she is bored with younger boys and 
girls. In many ways she is much older than her 14 years. Most of her recent 
battles with her mother grew out of her going out with older boys, because 
her mother did not know that she could take care of herself. As she thinks 
it over now, Evelyn realizes that her mother was right to worry about a 14- 
year-old girl, but when her mother told her not to go out she went anyway. 
Another thing that made Evelyn feel older than 14 was that she and her three 
sisters were always lumped together. She liked housework and did a great 
deal of it when she was only a little child. She took almost complete care of 
George, one of the twins, and she has always had more responsibility than 
most girls of her age. Evelyn cannot or will not say why she thinks that 
acting older than her age was a mistake, but concluded: "I was wrong in a lot 
of things." 


She then began to speak of her mother, saying that while her mother still 
did not feel well, she was not as grouchy as she had been. They had bought 
more clothes for the baby together, and Evelyn said with a grin and a little 
wriggle of her body: "I just can't wait for that baby." 

Except for occasional mild cramps Evelyn has never had any trouble dur- 
ing her menstrual periods and is not bothered by them. She had picked up a 
considerable amount of information about sex at school, but until she talked 
with Dr. T., she did not know the "straight facts." She grinned and told of 
going at once to her sisters and telling them all that Dr. T. had told her. She 
commented: "I was the first to know it straight. Just as I am always the 
first in everything." 

She said that her mother had never mentioned sex matters to her and she 
thinks this was a mistake. As a matter of fact, Evelyn has always been able 
to take care of herself, but if this had not been the case, her mother would 
have been to blame had anything evil happened to her because of her ignor- 
ance. She thinks that parents should tell children about sex as soon as they 
begin to ask questions, but comments: "I do not know how I would do it if I 
had to do it, though. I can see why mother thought it was too hard." 

One week later Evelyn appeared happy and contented about her decision 
to stay at home. She talked quite sensibly about her parents' current attitude 
and said that she knew that the family would not keep on treating her so well, 
but they had missed her just as she had missed them, and she thought that in 
the future things would go more smoothly. 

The story of her life was finished, but she had decided that it was not good 
enough to be published. She did not know quite what to do with it and 
thought she would tear it up. She neither agreed nor disagreed with the 
physician's casual suggestion that she bring it to her to read. Her main 
interest now is the new baby and she told again how everyone has decided that 
it will be a boy and its name is to be Andrew. She does not know what will 
happen if it is a girl. She does not like the name Andrew, but it is a Scotch 
name and both the parents are Scotch. She said that she enjoyed reading 
anything about Scotland and that she would like to go there some day. 

She likes writing very much and her teacher frequently reads her compo- 
sitions to the class. The teacher scolds Evelyn because her spelling and 
punctuation are poor, but she likes her ideas. That day Evelyn was worried 
about Elizabeth and seemed relieved to hear that Elizabeth was still in the 
foster home and apparently behaving quite well. 

A week later Evelyn presented a neater appearance than usual. Her 
make-up was carefully put on. She looked clean and was wearing an attrac- 
tive sweater and skirt. Things are going fairly well at home. Her mother 
was sick Thursday and Evelyn stayed home from school to help her. The 
mother asked the other girls to stay, but each one refused in turn, giving some 
flimsy excuse. The satisfaction Evelyn obviously gets from being the depend- 


able one in the family was discussed, and it was observed that she has always 
been the one who did things for the mother. She is very much excited about 
the baby. Her mother has promised her that she can take complete charge 
of the child, and she wants to bring it up her way or not at all. The twins 
and Louise are spoiled brats, and she won't have anything like that with her 
baby. She told her mother that she wanted to have the final word on any- 
thing relating to the baby and her mother agreed. She is looking up girls' 
names and hopes the baby is a girl. She likes girls better and thinks a boy 
would be spoiled by the whole family. 

Evelyn has never mentioned taking $10 from her mother's friend, although 
several opportunities have been made for her to bring up the subject. When 
asked about it directly she became quite distressed. She wriggled in her 
chair, seemed ashamed, and was very reluctant to discuss it. Finally she 
said: "I guess maybe everybody has something he is ashamed to remember." 

She said that she had not planned to do it, but she saw the money on the 
friend's dresser. She was upset about something, so she took the money and 
went out to have a good time trying to forget everything. She went to the 
movies, bought a few little things for herself, and came home in a taxi. She 
lost some of it. She does not know why she did such a thing, and no one else 
could understand it either. She paid back all the money to the woman. "The 
worst of it was," she said, "that it was somebody I loved very much." 

When asked if the woman behaved differently toward her, Evelyn replied: 
"Oh, no, but I feel different about her." 

The physician pointed out that this episode was part of her whole problem 
and may have been similar in origin to much of her impulsive running away. 
After considerable reassurance, she gradually appeared more comfortable, 
but was subdued during the rest of the interview. 

One week later Evelyn, who had been coming late to the clinic and had dis- 
cussed this question with her physician, came on time. Again she looked 
neat, her make-up was subdued, and her clothing was clean. Her mother 
had been feeling rather miserable but not sick enough to go to the doctor. 
Evelyn expressed concern about her and said that her mother would not stay 
in bed if she were not really sick. The question of Evelyn's supervision of 
the new baby was brought up and discussed at some length. Evelyn agreed 
that she probably would not be allowed to take complete charge of the baby 
and that she would not be able to decide really important matters, but she 
wants to take care of it, and she thinks that if she pays considerable attention 
to it, she can keep it from becoming quite spoiled. She thinks that she is so 
much interested in this baby because she likes babies in general, and also 
because she would like the feeling of having something of her own. She knows 
that this baby won't be quite that, but it will be more her own than anything 
or anyone she has right now. 

Evelyn inquired about Elizabeth, having learned that the latter had run 


away and been sent to Lancaster. She is unhappy and concerned about her 
and says that she hates to think of her in a reform school. She thinks that 
if she had stayed at the foster home, Elizabeth would have had a girl friend 
and would not have run away, at least not for a long time; but she is not 
really blaming herself, because she knows that she cannot live just to take care 
of Elizabeth. She thinks that Elizabeth would not have run away if she had 
been in a different place where there was more to do, and where the foster 
mother was more congenial. However, she does not think that Elizabeth 
would have stayed very long even in a very nice foster home. Elizabeth 
talked about wanting a home and a few years earlier she probably did want 
one; but now she likes excitement, and a quiet life in a nice home would bore 
her to death. Evelyn agrees that Elizabeth is too young to be entirely on her 
own and adds: "And not smart enough, either." 

She does not think that Elizabeth is really boy crazy, but that she likes 
boys. Boys can take her dancing and to the movies and provide some of the 
excitement she craves. She is a little different from Evelyn in her attitude 
toward boys. Evelyn says: "I can take them or leave them." 

Evelyn then asked some rather searching questions about the law in regard 
to young girls, also about reform schools and foster homes. She wanted to 
know about the authority and responsibility of a place like the clinic in such 
a case as Elizabeth's. She asked, too, who chose the people who were to act 
as foster parents, and said that it was very difficult to find the right people 
for a certain girl or boy she was interested in. She declared that when she 
grew up, she was going to try to do something to help the work of such a clinic. 

Since Evelyn went to the foster home she has apologized for her former 
behavior and has gradually come to regard the physician casually. She made 
teasing inquiries about an army air force package of matches that she saw on 
the physician's desk, and apparently feels comfortable and secure in the 
relationship she has established with her. 

Here the interviews were interrupted because Evelyn ran away and during 
the succeeding weeks it was impossible to find out her whereabouts. 

Evelyn began to menstruate at the age of 12, apparently 
before she had reached a maturity adequate for the psychologic 
assimilation of this physiologic event. We do not know exactly 
what her direct reactions to this sign of growth were, but we 
know that she began to behave abnormally soon afterward. 
The fact that a physiologic event was such a strong provocation 
points to the existence of a disposition to neurotic behavior 
stemming from other sources. What was Evelyn's emotional 


situation before she began to menstruate? We can find an 
answer to this question by examining her life history. 

She is a fourth daughter, and her domestic situation was such 
that an object for the typical prepuberty attachment to another 
girl was present in the home. As Evelyn herself says, there was 
a kind of little "gang" in her home, a small revolutionary group 
united by their common hatred of their mother. It is immate- 
rial for our purposes to determine how much this situation ex- 
isted in Evelyn's fantasy and how much in reality. At any rate, 
the girls had secrets among themselves of the typical character 
described above (chap, i); they displayed sexual curiosity 
and at the same time resented the secrets of their mother. In 
Evelyn's case the situation was particularly clear-cut, because 
her mother actually does surround herself with an atmosphere 
of secrecy. She is extraordinarily prudish sexually and in this 
way strengthens the need for secrecy in her young daughters. 
Evelyn is the youngest in the foursome, and tor this reason has 
a particularly strong need to be "grown-up. " Her joytul re- 
mark to the physician who enlightened her on sex matters is 
very characteristic: "My sisters do not know about all that; I 
will be the first in this as in everything else." 

The desire to be the first to have experiences involves great 
dangers for Evelyn and for girls like her: it may lead them to 
actions that arise not from genuine sexual need, but trom the 
urge to show the grownups that they, too, are grown up. The 
inner tension that pushes children to fatal adventures often 
derives from the desire to be grown up rather than from a strong 
sexual urge. 

Evelyn's relation to her sister Mary was a clear example of 
the two-girl situation and obviously played a part typical of 
the prepuberty period in Evelyn's emotional life. In the course 
of this relation Evelyn experienced a trauma. Her sister- 
friend acquired a boy friend who is in the navy, and Evelyn 
complained that instead of the triangular situation she uncon- 
sciously expected, a completely new regrouping took place. 


Mary spent her evenings with her boy friend, while Evelyn 
exiled herself to solitude and no longer wanted to share her bed- 
room with her sister. This trauma recurred in a somewhat less 
intense form in her relation with the oldest sister, who also has 
a boy friend. Of the group of four sisters, only 1 6-year-old 
Lucy suffers from the same difficulties as Evelyn and experi- 
ences similar emotions. She cannot bear her parental home and 
from time to time runs away to her uncle and aunt. This is a 
mild form of flight that tails far short of Evelyn's in emo- 
tional level. But, as Evelyn says, Lucy gets "everything she 
wants" at her uncle and aunt's a remark that betrays the fact 
that Evelyn had no refuge where she could have her wishes 

It is perfectly clear that Evelyn has run away from home in 
order to find a substitute in the outside world for her destroyed 
relation with her sister friend. She has become attached to 
Helen, the 21 -year-old wife of a sailor, with whom she has the 
important satisfaction of being treated by a girl seven years 
older than herself as an equal, a grownup. Helen expresses 
this attitude by lending the i4-year-old Evelyn her own birth 
certificate to protect her from the curfew imposed on the young, 
thus making it possible for her to go out at night. In addition, 
Helen, just like Evelyn's sisters, has a boy friend, also in the 
navy; true, she is married to him, but since her husband is at 
sea, her situation is similar to that of the lonely Evelyn, and 
thus she can offer her better conditions of friendship than her 
sisters. Apparently Evelyn has skipped the triangular situ- 
ation that she did not succeed in establishing with her sister, 
and has herself found a boy friend in the navy. He is a real 
character, but one so pale that he resembles a fantasy product. 
Evelyn really did meet him, but immediately afterward he went 
to sea, like Helen's husband, and his whereabouts is unknown. 
The fantasy is as pale as reality in this case, because at bottom 
Evelyn has not the slightest interest in men. All she wants is 
to be a grownup and to have what her deserting sister has. The 
war makes the choice of a fantasy object easy tor her, because 


all the men involved in the relationships of those around her 
are soldiers and sailors. Helen, as a sisterly figure and object of 
identification, is very dangerous: Evelyn is not yet ready to 
have a man independently. According to her development, 
she should play the part of the third partner, and her premature 
independence cannot give her any emotional gratification. 

The dangers into which Evelyn is plunged are extremely 
typical for the young who have not yet reached adolescence. 
The situation described here has, moreover, become a specific 
war problem. The combined effects of the emotional distur- 
bance characteristic of this age period and the overstimulation 
of imagination connected with the war are turning the formerly 
sporadic and more or less morbid cases of running away into a 
mass problem. The majority of the young girls encountered 
in parks or dubious hotels as soldiers' sweethearts, or caught 
outdoors after the curfew, are by no means "precociously ma- 
ture"; they play and act as young people of their age have 
always done, only the reality of the war has given their behavior 
a more dangerous form. The older girl, that is, the older sister 
or friend who now hastily marries the formerly platonic boy 
friend or becomes pregnant as a result of intercourse with him, 
has actually become precociously mature; in doing this she 
leaves her younger companion or sister in the lurch, as Evelyn's 
sister has done, and the younger girl, left alone and unsatisfied, 
is seized by an urge for identification that moves her to sham- 
sexual actions. As a result of their weakened self-control and 
psychologic instability, immature girls are exposed to serious 
personal dangers and as a mass phenomenon create an almost 
insoluble social problem. 

Thus, in her imitation of Helen, several of Evelyn's fantasies 
have become enhanced as a result of her feeling of solitude. 
The prostitution fantasy, to which we shall return later, has 
taken a form in her that is found in girls between the periods of 
prepuberty and puberty. It is still a play without content, 
deriving from curiosity and a desire for secrecy, but it is no 
longer confined to playing with a friend, as is the case with 


younger girls. Now it is actually played out in the street. This 
is obviously accompanied by more mature fantasy elements 
that are, however, not yet strong and dangerous enough to be 
successfully repressed by the girl. The most interesting thing 
here is that Evelyn denies that there is any danger in this situa- 
tion, that she herself considers it a harmless game, because 
actually she does not feel any desire for sexual experiences. 

This feeling represents the greatest danger of all for young 
girls: they have no sexual urge, they desire no sexual gratifica- 
tions, and because of this absence of desire they feel secure. 
But the game itself is provocative, and although make-up and 
lipstick have no more significance for them than for the little 
girl playing in front of her mirror, the reactions of the outside 
world are more serious. The provocative behavior of the young 
girl otten has a seductive effect, and the fact that she often 
exaggerates her age (as by means of Helen's birth certificate in 
Evelyn's case), frees the man from any scruples he might have 
concerning a juvenile. Gradually, as a result of the male's 
wooing, the girl's sexual excitability is mobilized too. At first 
this leads to seemingly harmless preludes, but later the young 
girl is no longer able to master her excitement and the game 
becomes all too serious before she realizes it. Often the first 
accidental experience gives rise to a number of others on the 
basis of the feeling that "now everything is lost anyhow." 
Frequently the girl's restless urge leads her to sexual crimes 
against herself; sexual experience takes the place of love, and 
its consequences prostitution, syphilis, and illegitimate chil- 
dren often constitute an irretrievable disaster. 

Evelyn's abnormal situation is like a magnifying glass that 
can show us several other phenomena. We have assumed that 
her normal development was disturbed by the mortification 
she suffered in her friendship with her sister. It is known that 
such experiences have a traumatic effect only if they take place 
on soil prepared in advance. Evelyn's limit of tolerance had 
been reached with the appearance of menstruation; but other 


factors explaining her pathologic behavior can be shown. Some 
of these lie in her present situation, the unfavorable character of 
which does not result only from the loss of her friend. We have 
seen that substitute gratifications outside the home are ex- 
tremely important for overcoming the psychologic difficulties 
of the young. A comradely gang of girls and boys, in which 
sex is much talked about but nothing is done about it, and com- 
mon play acting in groups of a homogeneous cultural level, 
create better opportunities than more individual ways of 
gratifying psychologic urges. 

Modern educational and social institutions try to create the 
most favorable conditions for the formation of such groups. 
To a runaway more normal than Evelyn to a certain extent 
the inclination to run away is typical of all young people the 
group supplies many gratifications. Evelyn has found this 
solution for herself; she has even created a respected position 
for herself in a group and enjoys in it the confidence that her 
mother has refused her at home. She has been able to exchange 
the unsatisfactory gang within her family for a better one in the 
outside world. Here she has the opportunity of satisfying her 
wish to be a leader and to "know" things ahead of the others. 
Apparently it is also very important for her to be admitted as 
a tomboy and an equal of the boys. 

The need to be respected and to enjoy confidence is of extraor- 
dinary importance for Evelyn and for all girls of her age The 
urge to independence is usually accompanied by a feeling of 
insecurity. To create a sense of self-responsibility and self- 
criticism, the approval of the outside world is at first urgently 
needed. Evelyn's ambition to "be the first," to take over the 
part of the leader, to feel important and fully recognized, is 
generally characteristic of this phase of development. There 
is no doubt that Evelyn's family situation has only intensified 
this need in her. Her desire to be a boy is also fed by very 
personal motives, but at her age it is so typical that in this 
respect we can generalize her motives. Thus, her mother's 


forbidding her to associate with the gang because it was not up 
to her social standards deprived Evelyn of this favorable possi- 
bility for gratification and was for her a second trauma. 

Every action that keeps the young from finding normal out- 
lets provokes a reflex of the psychologic forces toward the past; 
in other words, it intensifies the infantile feelings that are still so 
strong in them. We have learned that during prepuberty and 
puberty the young girl has an intense urge to free herself from 
her mother's tutelage and that at the same time she still strongly 
clings to her mother. The strong hate tendencies that such a 
young girl displays in relation to her mother originate not so 
much in the Oedipus situation as in her anger at the fact that 
her mother prevents her from being a grownup. The old feel- 
ing of being utterly rejected and disdained is now connected 
with a strong feeling of hatred and a wish for retaliation. This 
hatred is then also used as a means to attain freedom. Evelyn, 
whose thinking is strongly influenced by crime novels, says 
without the slightest restraint that the gang at home, that is, 
she and her sisters, are going to kill their mother. 

Gradually other elements have probably entered into this 
hatred. We have seen Evelyn's fury gain momentum as her 
mother became pregnant, and from her utterances we can infer 
that she takes her mother's sexuality very much amiss, that 
she is jealous of the expected baby, and above all that this preg- 
nancy has mobilized her own wish to have a baby. Perhaps 
Evelyn ran away because she felt that she was not sufficiently 
loved by her mother and wanted to take revenge on her; per- 
haps she did it also because she feared that she would realize 
her hatred of her mother in murder. 

Evelyn has given us an important hint as to what is going on 
in her mind. She described the emotional processes in another 
girl who is also of a runaway type; this description is a confes- 
sion betraying her own emotions that she refuses to reveal 
directly. Elizabeth, the other girl, says Evelyn, ran away 
because she felt so deserted, empty, and bored; this feeling of 
emptiness that must be overcome by action in order not to lead 


to depression is so frequent among the young and so typical 
that we may well assume that Evelyn herself is suffering from 
such a state of emotional vacuum. The psychologic processes 
in a young person suffering from depression reflect a "provi- 
sional" situation such as occurs during a change of residence, 
when one has left the old apartment and not yet taken posses- 
sion of the new. The "under way" period is marked by rich 
fantasies, extravagant infatuations, and various defense 
mechanisms not necessarily resulting in grave morbid symp- 
toms. But we must not forget that Evelyn has behind her a 
heavily laden past. At home she has experienced a whole series 
of love disappointments: the favorite of her father, she was 
deserted by him upon the birth of a new child; her mother has 
never concealed from her that she came into the world undesired 
and that she was expected as a boy. We also know that a few 
years ago this girl experienced anxiety states during which she 
obviously suffered gravely each time she was separated from 
her mother. But Evelyn overcame all this normally until she 
had to cope with the sensitivity of pubescence, and external 
interference began to prevent the normal solutions she desired. 
Then, too, there are probably motives we have not, how- 
ever, learned them directly from her that created in her the 
need to drive herself from her home in order to become a freezing 
and starving Cinderella. She passed several night on the steps 
of a strange house in just such a miserable state. This behavior 
perhaps expressed a strong feeling of guilt that was the conse- 
quence of her aggressions against her mother, and perhaps this 
was strengthened by elements arising from other sources. On 
the basis of our knowledge of this age period, we may safely 
conjecture something of this kind, even though Evelyn's case 
history does not give us any direct evidence of it. There is no 
young girl in whom menstruation does not arouse genital ten- 
sion and a need to masturbate. From Evelyn's mother we 
learned that "such things" do not happen in her tamily, that 
they are "the dirtiest and most terrible things imaginable." 
Lucy did it once, but she was so energetically reprimanded that 


the misdemeanor was never repeated. Lucy is the sister who 
cannot stand her home and from time to time runs away to her 
uncle and aunt. We may suppose that the emptiness and soli- 
tude at home cannot sufficiently divert Evelyn's sexual tensions 
and that as a result her temptation to masturbate is increased. 
She prefers to fill out this emptiness by diversions outside her 
home and thus to avoid the forbidden act. She apparently 
thinks that she can control herself better in the outside world 
with its real dangers than when confronted with the dark forces 
at home. 

As has been said, this very security involves the greatest 
danger for Evelyn and for girls like her. Early puberty is 
characterized by intensified psychologic excitability and an 
urge to motor discharge, but there is not yet at this time a con- 
scious realization of sexual longings. Therefore this period is 
dangerous; the psychologic defense mechanisms that repress 
the sexual urge and can supervise it are not yet sufficiently 
formed, as they will be later during adolescence. Young girls 
of Evelyn's age often experience sexual situations that are tor 
them only an insignificant, harmless game, because they teel 
sufficiently protected by their awareness of their own lack of 
sexual interest. In so far as such actions are carried out, they 
are principally motivated, as we have seen, by the desire to 
imitate older sisters or friends, the urge to be grown-up, the 
feeling of isolation, the wish to take revenge on the parents, 
etc. The atmosphere of the war particularly intensifies these 
manifestations of prepuberty and early puberty and makes them 
a focus of danger. 

In cases such as Evelyn's, there are two possible solutions 
individual treatment by an appropriate and trained person (the 
motherly approach will seldom prove sufficient, because the 
rejection of the mother is usually too strong at this stage; it is 
often possible to achieve better results by adopting a comradely 
attitude) or admission to a well organized group outside the 
family. By throwing light on the processes within the indi- 
vidual, psychoanalysis can distinguish the different types of 


difficulties and thus give the best suggestions both for individual 
treatment and for the formation of favorable groups. 

We have used Evelyn as an illustration in our discussion of 
normal processes, although she cannot be regarded as normal. 
In her pathologic distortion she has shown us the norm as 
through a magnifying glass. The difference between normal 
and pathologic behavior is quantitative. In this sense the 
processes that have partly been found in the case history and 
partly been reconstructed can be regarded as typical of the 
phase of early puberty in girls. 


Nancy, a ij-year-old girl, was admitted to the hospital because of bizarre 
seizures apparently of psychogenic origin. 

She had been perfectly well all her life until about five months before the 
onset of menstruation, when she began to complain a great deal of pains in 
her abdomen. These came on immediately after she took exercise; later, 
when she bagan to menstruate, the pains occurred immediately before the 
menses. She would not go to see any doctor, however, despite the insistence 
of her sister, who says that she has the same feelings about doctors that Nancy 
has. Some months before the time of this history the young girl began to 
have occasional frontal headaches accompanied by intensified abdominal 
pain. Her condition was diagnosed as appendicitis and an immediate opera- 
tion was advised. Her recovery was uneventful. 

When she was first brought to the hospital Nancy did not know whether 
or not she was to be operated on. She was told that the operation would not 
take place until the next morning, but she was operated on one and a half 
hours after admission. The patient was terrified on the operating table, for 
she was afraid of dying. But above all she was furious at having been be- 
trayed, operated on "by surprise," without warning. She also expressed fears 
that "they would take out the wrong thing; the nurse would give the wrong 
instruments to the doctors, and they wouldn't notice it." After the opera- 
tion she was angry at the nurses. She thought that she should have been 
examined more thoroughly before the operation. She still thought the 
nurses had given the wrong instruments to the doctor. She was also worried 
as to whether her whole appendix had been taken out perhaps a part had 
been left in her that would cause an infection, or perhaps another organ had 
been taken out by mistake. 

The patient was discharged and went to the home of her married sister 
Anna in S to convalesce. There she had the first of her seizures. She 


was sitting down at about 9.30 a.m., having had breakfast an hour before. 
She suddenly "got all hot," felt queer, and was very much upset. She was 
quite frightened, a little nauseated and unsteady afterward, and went to sleep 
for a few hours. There was no loss of consciousness on that occasion. Nancy 
is able to recall the exact time of this attack, because her brother-in-law had 
had to stay in bed for eleven days after an accident, and she can calculate it 
from that circumstance. When the next attack occurred she was all alone, 
taking care of her i J-year-old niece. She does not remember what happened, 
but she had the same feeling as before. When she woke up, the whole family 
was there and she was sitting on the edge of a bed. 

By and by her attacks became more violent and more frequent and she 
began to lose consciousness with them. There was no aura, according to her 
account, although the attacks often came just after she drank water. The 
family noted this fact and someone used to stand behind her whenever she 
drank a glass of water. After the loss of consciousness without warning, the 
patient says, she "gets wild and acts kind of crazy." She calls out to her 
brother Dick "in a funny way." She thinks that she has been so violent that 
she has even bruised various members of the family at times. She always has 
a severe frontal headache when she wakes up. She remembers that one night 
when she fell and her sister tried to catch her, her head hit her sister's foot. 
She also recalls that she fell out of bed on one occasion when she was in the 

The family was very much afraid that she might injure herself while 
thrashing around, and both father and mother mention that they tried to 
restrain her by holding down her hands and her feet. The mother said it took 
both the father and the brother to hold the girl. On coming out of such a 
spell, Nancy seemed only partially conscious; she did not recognize the family, 
often acted very silly, and laughed and jumped around on the bed like an 
animal. Once she stood on the davenport, and banged an electric light sus- 
pended on a cord against the wall; another time she tried to overturn a pail of 
water; on several occasions she tore up pieces of paper and asked for matches. 
The family was terrified for fear that she would set fire to something. Twice 
she forgot what had been going on immediately before the attack. For 
example, her sister Anna and her husband were visiting, and Nancy had been 
out driving with them all morning. In the afternoon she had a spell and then 
spoke to them as if she were seeing them for the first time that day. Some- 
times she would talk very angrily, saying that they had beaten her or that 
they wanted to get rid of her or that someone was trying to hurt her and that 
she wanted her own father and mother. On other occasions, she would, on 
recovering from her attack, hug and kiss her mother and father very demon- 
stratively, which is not her usual habit. On one occasion she called her 
mother "a bathing beauty" and her father "an old bull." 


The father, who is of Italian birth, is the dominant figure in the home. He 
disciplines the children by talking to them but has never punished them 
physically. They are afraid of him and obey him, however. They think 
that this is because he never gives in to them as the mother does. 

The mother, also Italian, had a terrible temporal headache in the fourth or 
fifth month of her pregnancy with Nancy. She was admitted to the hospital 
at that time and for sixteen days had to be fed by rectum because of her fright- 
ful nausea and vomiting. From that time on she was not sick until five or 
six months before the time of this record. Then she began to have dizzy 
spells in which she would occasionally fall if there was no one at hand to catch 
her. She felt considerably better after she got glasses and had her teeth taken 
out. Her youngest child, George, was burned to death in a kitchen fire some 
years ago and for a time the mother was extremely nervous and very lonely. 
She cried a great deal, was sad and depressed, and had a poor appetite, al- 
though she was able to sleep fairly well. This lasted for about six or seven 
months. The priest thought that she might be happier if she had another 
little child to look after, so she adopted a boy. 

There are four other children in the family besides Nancy; Anna, the eldest, 
is 1 1 years older than Nancy; Tom, the youngest, is 4 years old. 

Anna, Nancy's favorite sister, is married and lives in a little town near by. 
Anna says that Nancy has always been a quiet child, obedient and helpful. 
She never had tantrums and was not impudent to her elders. She is therefore 
very much surprised at Nancy's present "fresh behavior" in the ward. 

Anna and Nancy have always been very much attached to each other and 
during the first year of Anna's marriage Nancy visited her sister almost every 
day and lived with her during the summer vacation. Anna's baby was born 
almost two years before this account begins. Despite the fact that Nancy was 
visiting her almost every day, Anna does not believe that the girl knew there 
was going to be a baby. At that time Anna was making some baby clothes 
and Nancy asked her what they were for. Anna answered that she was 
planning to buy a baby. Nancy accepted this without comment. The baby 
was born prematurely at eight months, to everyone's surprise. Anna had 
gone to another town for a few days and the baby was born immediately upon 
her return. Nancy had not visited her for several days and was very much 
surprised when she found the baby. She has been very loving toward her 
little niece and has devoted a great deal of attention to her. While visiting 

her sister in S Nancy slept in the back room with the baby most of the 

time. The sister does not believe that Nancy has ever seen her husband mak- 
ing love to her. 

Nancy has always liked J., her brother-in-law, and will do anything he tells 
her to do. She became very much excited and upset when he burned himself 
in the fireplace when she was visiting the couple after her operation. She 


wanted to wait on him hand and foot and spent hours playing cards with him; 
she likes to "fool" with him, wrestles with him, and teases him. It was at this 
time that she had the first of her attacks. The sister says that the young girl 
was sitting on a chair in the kitchen. Suddenly she complained of feeling 
dizzy and her body was flushed and perspiring. Anna made Nancy lie down 
for a while. During this period she was having great difficulty in sleeping at 
night and read a great deal. She used to fall asleep at about 4 or 4.30 a.m. 
and would wake up at about 10 a.m. After she returned home she began to 
have more violent seizures, but the sister did not see any of these until some 
months ago, when she came to visit her family. She and her husband took 
Nancy to church and then to a restaurant for a simple dinner. The younger 
sister enjoyed herself immensely, but when they returned home she took a 
drink of water, fell to the floor, and had a generalized convulsion, recovering 
consciousness in about ten minutes. She then greeted Anna and her husband 
very joy fully, asked when they had arrived, and said that she had been expect- 
ing them. She had total amnesia as far as the events of the day were con- 
cerned. This is the only severe attack that Anna ever observed. 

Anna is a stepsister, a daughter of Nancy's mother by a previous marriage. 
She has never got along particularly well with her stepfather, who limited her 
activities and forbade her to go out when she was a young girl. She used to 
meet her present husband secretly during their engagement, and their mar- 
riage was kept secret for several months. Nancy was the only one who knew 
what was going on. When her father learned about it, there was a terrible 
scene. For a year afterward, Anna refused to speak to him. Nancy con- 
tinued to visit her older sister secretly and Anna feels that she was carrying a 
large burden of family troubles at this time. In this period of great strain, 
Anna says, she herself suffered from spells similar to Nancy's as well as from 
markedly increased irritability, headaches, and dizziness. She even mani- 
fested semiviolent behavior. Since her pregnancy she has been having too 
frequent menstruations with a very profuse flow. She is again suffering from 
headaches and dizziness. 

According to the parents and Anna, Nancy is a very honest, quiet, obedient, 
helpful, and religious child. She is somewhat shy and usually keeps to her- 
self. She has always been finicky about food and seems not to like anything 
except candy, of which she eats a large quantity. Apart from that she has 
been a well behaved and healthy girl, with no history of tantrums, nail biting, 
nightmares, or enuresis, nor of fainting before the onset of the present trouble. 
She is sensible and careful, more reliable about errands than the other children. 
Whereas the siblings quarreled among themselves or with other children in the 
neighborhood, Nancy always walked by herself to avoid trouble. However, 
she seems to get along very well with her classmates at school, even though 
she seldom smiles or laughs. She has been very much interested in her little 


baby brother Tom and quite helpful with him. She is apparently a conscien- 
tious child. 

The only unusual thing that the mother brought out in the history relates 
to the last four years. About four years ago an older sister, Clara, had her 
appendix removed. The accident in which little George died occurred at 
about the same period. 

The mother says that Nancy very much liked the religious instruction at 
school; for example, she always insisted on repeating a prayer to the Mother 
of Sorrows. She says that the other children were encouraged to pattern 
themselves after her. The school in which Nancy was a model pupil is a con- 
vent school, much stricter than most. The children must wear long stockings 
and no ankle socks are allowed; they are also supposed to wear long sleeves. 
The building is for girls only. 

The nun teacher described the child as a perfect lady, but says that when 
she got good marks, she slaved for them; she is not very able. Because the 
mother works out, the teacher is under the impression that Nancy does a 
great deal of work at home and comes to school tired. For a month before the 
operation, she said, Nancy was not well, complained of a pain in her side, and 
seemed to her to be "failing." The nun sent her home once, telling her to 
inform her mother that something was wrong with her. 

Absolutely no information concerning sex has been given to the child by 
the parents. They know nothing of her sex interests or practices. When 
her first menses occurred, about a year ago, she was with her sister Anna. 
Anna attempted to explain something about this phenomenon to Nancy, told 
her it was a natural occurrence in girls of her age, and that it was nothing to 
be frightened about, but Nancy was very bashful and her sister soon dropped 
the subject. She is still shy about her periods and does not mention them 
to her mother. 


Nancy's behavior on the ward was at first antagonistic. She was flippant 
and forward in her remarks to the doctors and said things that were evidently 
intended to be embarrassing and shocking. She is preoccupied with her own 
thoughts, which, as her comments reveal, are fantasies about love affairs and 

She often complained that she still had abdominal pains. One morning 
she declared that she had swallowed a penny. Accordingly she was sent to 
the X-ray room for a flat plate of her abdomen, since there was considerable 
doubt as to whether she had actually swallowed the Coin. That night she 
demanded to know what the X-rays showed. [She was evidently very much 
interested in the inside of her body; later, the treatment in the psychiatric 
clinic clarified the motives of this preoccupation.] One evening she asked to 


see me and came into the office about 9:30. This time her attitude was in 
striking contrast to what it had been previously. Her manner was quiet, 
friendly, warm, and quite natural, in direct contrast to the antagonistic, 
flippant, impudent attitude she had previously exhibited. She was much 
concerned over the possibility of being sent home and wanted to know what I 
would tell her father and mother. I assured her that she would not be sent 
home now that she had abdominal pain again. She was greatly relieved at 
this, because, as she says, there is no one at home to look after her, since her 
mother works, and she does not want to worry her father by being at home 
sick while the rest of the family is away. She said that since she was having 
pain she was going to stay up all night and that she was going to talk to me all 
night long. I let her talk on perfectly freely. She told me that she had had a 
great deal of experience, that she knew a lot of things that most girls of her 
age do not know. She did not divulge any of these experiences, but told me 
that she had been with her sister almost every day since her marriage. When 
questioned further about this, she explained that she used to visit Anna very 
frequently in the period before she had her baby. However, for several days 
before this event, she just did not feel like going over there. Then suddenly 
she had the feeling that something had happened to her sister and later she 
learned that the baby had been born. She also talked about her brother-in- 
law, who is "a good egg," as she put it. 

She referred to various patients and was very critical and jealous of all of 
them. She said that "Miss F. was making a cat and then she acted out some- 
thing that was disgusting." From further conversation it was apparent that 
the group had been talking about babies and that Miss F. pretended that she 
was having one. She thought that this was terrible and something that 
Miss F. should not have done. 

She does not understand why people get married anyhow, she said. She 
referred to the photograph on my desk, and said, "You said that picture was 
taken five years ago. Have you been married that long?" 

I explained to her that the picture had been taken that long ago, but that 
I had been married only about two and a half years and she said: "Then that 
explains it, because most people who have been married as much as two years 
have a baby." 

She told me again that she intended to stay up all night and manifested 
considerable curiosity about where I sleep on my night on duty, saying that 
this is another reason why people should not marry doctors: they never spend 
any time at home. She suggested that I spend the night in the office with her 
and pointed out the couch where I could sleep. I assured her that I would 
much prefer my comfortable bed, whereupon she said that she might as well 
spend the night in the office whether I did or not, and fixed herself comfortably 
on the couch. I told her that I was going to bed and switched out the light 
when I left the room. 


After I left her in the office that night, Nancy's behavior and dreams re- 
vealed that she had violent aggressive feelings toward me. 

She made difficulties in the ward, continued to complain of headache and 
pain in her abdomen, and was irritable at times. She was extremely jealous 
of other patients, especially young girls, and it was evident that this jealousy 
and the feeling of being rejected by the doctor provoked immense anger and 
attacks. She confided to him alone the material that was given in her history: 
the secrecy surrounding Anna's marriage, and the fact that she was in on the 
secret and felt the responsibility heavily. She was willing to go to a foster 
home, but only to one where there would be no other children. 

Throughout her stay at the hospital she expressed a great deal of antago- 
nism toward the other patients and continued to make rather overt passes at 
me. She improved in regard to her attacks, admitted that she was putting 
on her pain, and that in reality she only wanted sympathy. After two 
months she was discharged and followed up by a woman psychiatrist in the 
outpatient department. 

When Nancy left the hospital, she was placed in a foster home, with the 
consent of her mother. There was another girl of her age there, which was 
very desirable, for we all considered it important for her to have a companion 
of her own age. On her first day there she seemed dazed; the next morning 
she slept late and wanted to stay in bed. She was stubborn, and declared: 
"No one is going to boss me." 

At the beginning she was very difficult to handle, complained that we had 
let her down by putting her in such a place, etc. She was very fussy about 
food and complained about a pain in her stomach. She was dramatic about 
her fear of the dogs, etc. 

By and by she began to like the foster home and to enjoy the new school, 
especially the fact that there are both boys and girls there. The new girl 
friend, Louise, has introduced her to a boy, "Mr. Jones." Louise is very 
much interested in the opposite sex. A young man from across the street visits 
her regularly. Another eighteen-year-old boy comes to see her quite often. 
Apparently there is endless conversation between the two girls about these 
boys and the foster mother encourages them to talk. Nancy, who at first 
refused to make a garden, now thinks she would like one because maybe Mr. 
Jones will come over and help her. She is interested in her appearance, and 
wants to keep her clothes in order and be neat in her school work. The girls 
spend much time dressing their hair, at which Louise is an expert. Nancy's 
hair has been dressed with curlers. She is much freer, and interested in 
housework. At rare intervals she has an attack, in which the emotional 
provocation and the dramatic character of the spells are evident. She had a 
menstrual period and this time turned to the foster mother for instruction. 
She was very willing to receive information about child bearing and child- 


After some weeks Nancy was more contented in general and there was a 
tremendous change in her appearance. She was very well adjusted to the 
foster home and was eating everything. She worked well at school and in the 

A few more weeks passed and the foster parent again had troubles with 
Nancy. These arose in connection with her visits to her parents. She 
wanted to go home, said that there was nothing wrong with her, and was un- 
happy because she was not with her family. Louise and Nancy had dates 
with boys, which did not seem to work out well for Nancy. She developed 
increased jealousy and the feeling that she was being cheated by Louise. She 
continued the treatment under a woman psychiatrist that had been started 
during her stay in the hospital ward. From this source we were able to learn 
more about her case. The following is an excerpt from the clinic record. 


Nancy complains to her new doctor that the doctors in the ward treat her 
badly; they do not understand her, they laugh at her. Her feelings and her 
pride are hurt all the time, even by things that should not hurt at all. She 
cannot understand this and she cannot get over it. The reason why she sleeps 
so much is that she does not want her feelings to be hurt nor to hurt those of 
others. She is so depressed now, she would not care if she died: "I once 
yelled at night that I would kill somebody, my father, but I would not do it, 
I just haven't the courage, I want to be a reporter." 

She confesses to the doctor that she was in love with Dr. M. She had a 
spell last week. Her mother had spells two years ago. Nancy witnessed the 
first one: "Something like mine . . . she must have been sleeping, then yelling 
that sounds like mine. I used to be white in my spells, maybe Mother 
got her spells from worrying about me; Mother worried about my brother who 
died. I actually blamed myself for his death." 

The brother, aged 4, had walked into the kitchen with one of Nancy's 
girl friends. The door of the stove was open, and Nancy shouted to her 
friend to warn her. The girl turned toward her and left the little boy, who 
ran into the flames. His clothes caught on fire and there was not much left 
of him, just a lot of burned flesh. He was taken to the hospital. Since then 
Nancy has dreamed of this incident and has been afraid of death. She spoke 
about her operation and still feels that she was cheated, that the nurses gave 
the wrong instruments to the doctor, etc. 

Two days later Nancy seems more at ease, although when asked anything 
she dislikes, she looks like a furious animal, with her eyes staring and her lower 
teeth clenched tight over the upper, as if to bite. She has had no spells in 
this interval, but headaches all day long, every day, so that she saw double; 
she is less depressed, but still does not want to see people. This is one of the 


reasons why she prefers to stay in bed or to go back to bed whenever she gets 
up. Her feelings are hurt very often as when the head nurse called her 
"Grandma" for not getting up [Nancy often looks like a very old woman]. 
So she did get up and felt worse. She had not vomited for six days, but she 
threw up her supper the night before. "Food does not look good to me," she 
said. Formerly she liked to eat. 

As she lies in bed at night, she always reviews the happenings of the day. 
Every night she has to think over the question of the new doctor whether 
she considers herself a friend of Dr. M. Nancy, with tremendous moral dis- 
gust, states that if the doctor thought she was in love with Dr. M. she was 
terribly mistaken: children cannot be in love. She never heard of such a 
thing. Anyhow, she does not like people. Why should she be in love? She 
does not even care about anybody. 

About a month later Nancy is very suspicious. The new doctor keeps 
secrets; she always thinks over what the doctor says to find out what is behind 
it. She would like to have faith, but she never can believe what she is told 
without doubting. She has been fooled by people many times, so she is sus- 
picious. People have made promises to her and have not kept them. For 
example, someone told her that she could go some place and that another 
person would be invited too; then she got suspicious. One girl invited four 
kids, but there was room only for three. Then she tells that the other three 
children did not want Nancy to come along. They wanted their own friends. 

A week later Nancy is more cheerful, less tense, less shut in; she states on 
questioning that she is happier now. She tells about a dream that she had 
the night before. She was in bed at night. In the bed next to her was a 
little boy. Dr. M. came in; a nurse called him to come down and pertorm 
an operation to bring a baby into the world. She wondered what a baby 
looked like when it was just born; she asked Dr. M. whether she could see it. 
For a while he refused but finally he let her see it. The baby looked like a 
long, long piece of something, folded over like a blanket; the skin was funny, 
like a turtle's; between the folds was "all that is in you, all that terrible stuft, 
it turned my stomach." Therefore she went out of the room. The little boy 
ran out and Nancy came back to see what he had done. He had pulled at 
the baby's blanket and the whole thing had fallen to the floor. It all opened 
up, it was a flat piece and everything showed up, simply terrible things, all 
kinds of things were there. "I don't know what they were. I picked it up 
and put it in the blanket so that it looked all right. Dr. M. came in and 
took the thing out." Then Nancy woke up. 

Nancy complains that her memory is so bad lately that she never knows 
what happened three days ago. She does not like to think of her dream, it 
was too ugly; she asks why she had it. She feels that she often knows in ad- 
vance what will happen to her and to other people. The day before she had 


a feeling the world was going under everything was far away. She felt as if 
she were dead (this happened when she saw another patient come out of Dr. 
M.'s office. Dr. M. had not talked with her). She then clutched another 
patient and asked for water. Both girls went for the water and on the way 
back Nancy fainted before reaching her bed; she cannot remember the 

She has an outburst of hatred against women doctors. She had more fun 
with Dr. M. than she ever had in her life. But she doesn't like him the way 
the new doctor thinks; she wants to be in Dr. M/s office all the time and see 
more of him than other patients do. 

She is rather unwilling to associate with her dream; she tells spontaneously 
that she saw her niece before she was twelve days old. Nancy shuddered 
over the ugly appearance of the child ("like a stuffed rat"), not human at all; 
the skin was ugly, but unlike that of the baby in the dream, which had no 
arms, legs, nor head. Her brother Tom used to hold the niece, and this was 
funny, for the baby in its blankets was almost as big as he was. She expresses 
some disgust about diapers. 

Ten days later Nancy is in a foster home. She comes to the clinic very 
angry and tense; she feels she has been cheated by being sent to the country. 
First she says that she was not told about it, then adds that she was asked 
whether she would like to try it. She won't stay "If it goes on longer than 
a week from Sunday, something will happen." 

She hints at suicide. The people in the home are lovely, the foster parents 
and Louise, the other girl. But it is too lonesome and she is afraid of the 
dogs and the horses; and the goats and chickens get under her skin. Then 
she suddenly looks sentimental and says that she always cries when she hears 
the song "O Mamma" over the radio. She is homesick for her mother. When 
she is at home she takes her mother for granted, but when she is away she 
longs for her; she had the same feeling when she was at her sister's. The last 
time she was there, "I took it all out on myself and cried when I was alone, 
and then the spells started and this feeling that I was going to die." 

When she came home after three weeks, she felt "swell," even went to 
school for one week, but then "had spells and was unhappy again." Nancy 
always has the feeling that she is missing something and always holds the 
environment she happens to be in responsible for her unhappiness. She says 
that she fears her mother will have another stroke and die. 

She talks spontaneously about her brother-in-law and his accident. 
She says that he and she were the patients in the house, both of them had 
had operations (the brother-in-law for verrucosis). She still worries about 
whether they took her whole appendix out; maybe they left a part of it in 
her which will cause an infection or perhaps they took out another organ 
by mistake. The nurses ridiculed her for such an idea, but anyway no one 
ever tells her the truth. Nancy can be made to realize that this is a recurrent 


theme in her thoughts and that she suspects people of keeping secrets from 
her all the time. She has had no spells since she has been in the foster home, 
but sometimes she feels that she is dying. She is less tense and softer. 

A week later, Nancy is angry that she has had to wait, but she unbends 
quickly. She appears more mature, more at ease, more interested in the 
outside world. She tells the doctor that she is mad at her sister Emma, 
two years her junior. Emma tries to be "smart/* picks on her, tickles her, 
takes things away from her. Emma always got more than Nancy; Nancy 
ever since childhood has wanted to tear Emma to pieces; she thought of 
twisting her around and smashing her on the floor. She had similar feelings 
toward her niece, although she loves this little baby more than anybody else 
on earth. Last summer Nancy was playing with her niece and suddenly she 
felt so mad that she could only think of killing her. Fortunately her sister 
came in just then. Nancy says that she never wants her sister to know that 
she has such thoughts. Shortly after this incident she went into the kitchen 
and hit the kitten, although the kitten had not done anything naughty. 
Nancy often feels full of hate toward babies, in spite of the fact that she is 
fond of them. 

She tells spontaneously that she knew a long time in advance that her 
sister was going to have a baby, as she overheard her mother and Anna 
talking about it. Nancy then asked her sister whether this was true; the 
latter denied it, yet Nancy was convinced that her sister always told her 
the truth. However, two weeks before the birth of the child Anna told her 
about her pregnancy. Nancy is quite emotional as she tells this; she blushes, 
puts her hands to her face, then scratches her legs. 

She asks whether the doctor has noticed her hair-do; she has had a hair- 
cut and pretends not to care whether anyone notices it, although she does 
care very much. She says that she wants to go to the ward and see the 
patients. The doctor does not mention her idea that Nancy also wants to 
see Dr. M. and show him her hair; Nancy says proudly that she will be 14 
in two weeks. 

A week later, Nancy says that she has a crush on a boy of 14 whom all 
the girls like; he rides on the same bus with her and Louise. 

She has an outburst against her woman teacher because she has not given 
her a seat in the classroom; she says that her desk "is covered with other 
kids' books." In discussing this Nancy starts to excuse the teacher. She 
wants to be transferred to be in the same class as her boy friend. She only 
knows his last name, Smith. She thinks his first name is Dick; Louise has 
decided that. Louise "kids" Nancy and tells her that Dick belongs to her, 
Louise, and that she sees him all day long. 

One week later, it is Nancy's birthday. She is happy and friendly and 
talks a lot about "Mr. Smith"; she has found out that his name is Arthur. 

Two weeks later there had been no fainting fits and no seizures. She 


manifested a slight irritability and some aggressive impulses against kittens 
and other young animals, but she showed a good relationship toward the 
foster parents and toward other children. She is friendly and warm and 
displays a sense of humor; she can laugh at the things that formerly aroused 
her bitterness or rage. She will continue to come once a week for psycho- 

A week later, still no seizures. She felt some anxiety when she went 
swimming for the first time that week. She has a warm relationship to her 
environment and the doctor. Nancy notices the change in herself: "Four- 
teen makes quite a difference." 

The doctor points out the change in her relationship to others. Nancy 
emphasizes that she never had anybody of her own age before. Her sister 
Anna is much older, Emma much younger; but seeing Louise, who is one year 
older, makes her enjoy life; she feels that the doctor understands what she 
means. She would like to stay at the foster home for the winter and catch 
up with her school work. 

Some weeks later everything seems to be fine (she came in with Louise). 
She wants to be a reporter when she finishes school. She sleeps well, has no 
dreams, says they are going to let her go home in September, if she wants to 
(she is not sure). She seems to have no problems to discuss. She and Louise 
have had a "couple of dates"; she has been to a movie that day. When 
she leaves she says, "It's been lovely meeting you," in a quite conventional 
way. We spoke for only ten minutes (somewhat perfunctorily) as there 
semed little to say and things seemed to be going satisfactorily. 

Three weeks later, she feels well; she will spend the winter at the foster 
home; she goes to see her parents over a long weekend. She has good rela- 
tions all around. She is still "furious" sometimes but much less so: "I am 
too happy to be as mad as I used to be." 

Some weeks later Nancy has had quite a disappointment: a group of boys 
had been coming to see her and Louise almost every evening. In the last 
few days they had said they were coming, and both girls got all dressed up, 
but no boys appeared. Afterward the boys said casually that they had had 
something else to do. Nancy feels that they were making fun of her and 

One day Nancy's foster mother took her to a dance. There was a boy 
for Louise and a boy for another girl they had taken along, but none for 
Nancy, and she is somewhat resentful of this. She has had no seizures, 
no dizziness nor weak spells, and physically feels very well. 

Two weeks later she is again full of hatred and resentment; she has been 
scolded at her foster home; she feels that the criticism was justified, but 
nobody has the right to tell her anything. She thinks her father has been 
offended by the hospital and she won't take that. One source of her dis- 


content seems to be the fact that all her classmates are younger than she, 
as she is repeating the grade. 

Two weeks later she talks in hints. There is something wrong inside her; 
she is doing something wrong to herself, but she will not talk about it. She 
is going to keep everything secret, for whenever she confides in her foster 
mother or the doctor or anybody else, they sooner or later betray her. There 
also is some secret between Louise and her. Louise gets all the blame, but 
that is not right. Only Nancy knows that Louise is really nice; Nancy feels 
she should be punished for certain things; but she is very sensitive if she is 
scolded for certain other things she does not feel guilty about. She talks a 
good deal about disappointment and what she received in return whenever 
she tried to be nice to someone, etc. 

Louise might leave and Nancy thinks it will be dull without her. 

A month later, Nancy is very much concerned about having lost Louise's 
confidence: "I was like a mother to her.'* 

She looks pale and seems blue, although she tries to act like a person 
who knows how to get fun out of life. She says that she got detention in 
school several times for being noisy and antagonizing the teacher. She 
says she always used to be very well behaved till the other kids called her 
"stuck-up." Now she wants to show them that she can be just as mischie- 
vous as they are or even more so. Since she has changed her attitude, the kids 
are on her side;one teacher also accuses her of being flirtatious with the boys. 
Nancy finally breaks down, complains that Louise still keeps away from her, 
never confides in her any more, will hardly speak to her, and cares only 
for boys. She is very popular with them and they think that she is much 
prettier than Nancy. Nancy is now on good terms with the foster parents, 
whereas Louise is the bad girl in the house. 

Three weeks later she is in good spirits. She expresses some resentment 
toward the foster mother and Louise, and some disappointment because 
there are no boys in her class in public school. There is some friction with 
her family, but she takes it all with a sense of humor and a certain insight 
into her part in the game. 

In the interview it is clear that Nancy reacts with rage to every situation 
in which her confidence is abused, particularly if her new friend Louise is 
involved. At the same time she is extremely jealous of Louise in relation 
both to boys and to the foster mother. If she succeeds in triumphing over 
Louise (e.g., in her relation to the foster mother), she is contrite and full of 
guilt feelings. 

Nancy has no fits any longer and is obviously improving. We are continu- 
ing the treatment with good results. 

Although Nancy is one year younger than Evelyn, the psycho- 
logic picture she presents contains more elements of later 


puberty than Evelyn's. We nevertheless use her case to illus- 
trate the processes of early puberty because much of her 
behavior still belongs to this phase of life. Compared with 
Evelyn, Nancy is much more sick in the clinical sense of the 
term. Neurologically there was evidence of cerebral disorder 
in the high voltage, slow waves of the electro-encephalogram, 
a few right-sided reflex changes at the end of an attack. The 
clinical record gave a description of a few of the attacks. How- 
ever, the impression was that most of the attacks were hys- 
terical. There was also an IQ of only 94. 

Whether or not this patient is diagnosed as an epileptic case 
is not of importance for our considerations here. The dynamic 
pressure of psychologic conflicts can disturb an abnormal 
brain just as much or more than a normal brain, and can pre- 
cipitate attacks with cerebral dysrhythmia, as well as with- 
out. Nancy's psychologic conflicts are a characteristic product 
of a puberty trauma. 

When Nancy came to the hospital she frightened everyone 
by her appearance. On a small and undeveloped body sat the 
head of a mature and wicked woman. The suspicion arose 
at once that this child had lived through a great deal. She was 
extraordinarily defiant and absolutely unwilling to reveal 
anything about her mental state, and her attitude toward 
treatment was completely negative. What could be learned 
trom her related directly to her operation for appendicitis. 
Her fits started after this operation; immediately before it she 
had violently resisted being anesthetized; she maintained that 
this surgical intervention had taken her by surprise, that she 
had been overpowered; and her anger was directed particularly 
against the nurse in charge of the physical preparations for 
the operation. She justified her excited behavior on the ground 
that she had not been told when the operation was to be per- 
formed; thus it was the element of surprise that aroused her 
anger and fear. 

Otherwise, almost nothing could be learned from her about 
her personal life. It seems that she felt happiest in the home 


of her married sister. There she had lived before her operation 
and there she returned after it, in accordance with her wish. 
She also spoke several times of her little niece, born a short 
time before her operation, and gave the impression that she 
tenderly loved this baby. 

It was obvious from the start that she had neither the wish 
to recover nor the slightest confidence in the medical treatment 
she was receiving. She fell in love with her physician and all 
her behavior in the hospital expressed her desire to be treated 
and loved by him as a grown-up woman. She had fits of anger 
and dreams that revealed strong aggressive tendencies in 
relation to this doctor. One could often clearly detect the 
connection between her frequent attacks and her fits of anger. 
These manifestations of her love were in harmony with her 
precocious facial expression rather than with her age. She was 
unashamedly aggressive, tried to remain alone in the room 
with Dr. M., assured him that she "knew everything/' and 
attempted to seduce him by these assurances. She made a 
jealous scene about the doctor's wife, whose photograph she 
discovered on his desk. She asked him to spend the night with 
her on the couch, was jealous of his other patients, etc. And 
yet this love had a theatric quality throughout; moreover, one 
had the impression that she gave free play to her arts of seduc- 
tion only because she was sure that the doctor would not be 
taken in by them. What seems genuine was her wish to be 
accepted by him as a grownup, her disappointed anger when 
he rejected her proposal, and her jealousy of his wife. 

Nancy's history showed clearly less in the sparse informa- 
tion she herself gave us, than in the data supplied by her 
family that before the beginning of her illness she was in a 
situation typical of early puberty. A short stretch of her 
history reminds us of Evelyn's. Like Evelyn, she was in 
alliance with her older sister and fell into a triangular situation 
because her sister took a husband (just as Evelyn did when 
her sister took a lover). But while the cause of Evelyn's 
misfortune was perhaps the fact that her sister had driven her 


out of the triangle too soon, Nancy fell ill because she remained 
in the triangle too long. With her sister she enjoyed a common 
erotic secret, which doubtless inflamed her imagination. The 
love relation of her sister was carefully guarded from the rest of 
the family, and Nancy was the only one who knew about it. 
The whole period of preparations, the secret wedding, etc., 
gave Nancy the keen pleasure of being "in the know." Later, 
after the marriage had ceased to be a secret, Nancy spent much 
of her time in the home of the newly wed couple. We do not 
know much of her relations with her brother-in-law, except 
that they had playful scuffles during which he often over- 
powered her and threw her on the floor. Her frequent visits to 
her sister certainly gave the young girl many opportunities 
to share, in her fantasy, the secret experiences of her sister 
and brother-in-law, and thus to continue the triangle in a 
less realistic form. 

It seems, however, that the traumatic element must be 
sought elsewhere. The sister became pregnant, and Nancy 
was no longer in the situation of sharing a secret. Not recog- 
nized as a grownup, she was not initiated into the great new 
development in her sister's life. She noticed the preparations 
for the birth of the baby and questioned her sister, who, how- 
ever, failed to tell her that she was pregnant and said only 
that she intended to buy a baby. To be thus thrust back 
into the role of a child from whom one has secrets and whom 
one deceives was unbearable for Nancy. Probably her first 
reaction to this disappointment was violent anger against her 
sister and the expected baby. 

The picture that unfolds now is already morbid in character 
and typical of a hysterical puberty neurosis. In order correctly 
to understand pathologic behavior, we must realize what 
constitutes a normal development Normally, the end of a 
triangular situation such as that in which Nancy found herself 
might be that Nancy, the third partner in the alliance, more or 
less consciously should fall in love with her sister's husband, 
then free herself from this love and turn to a new object. 


Or, especially if the triangle was not constituted by an older 
sister and a brother-in-law, it might lead to a conscious or un- 
conscious sharp rivalry, the outcome of which again would 
vary individually. The girl renounces the man, leaves him 
to her friend, and frees herself from the triangle with more or 
less effort; the scar of a disappointment will remain in her 
psyche and may affect her subsequent life. Or she triumphs 
over her friend by winning the man and renouncing the friend; 
even then the victorious rival may be left with a scar, caused 
this time by her sense of guilt in relation to her friend, and 
such a scar too may have painful effects in later life. 

A frequent result of such a triangle is the impulse to repeat 
this incompletely solved situation later. There are women 
who can fall in love only with the husbands of their triends, 
in order to take them away or to renounce them; others must 
always have a woman friend in order to be satisfied in their 
relations with their husbands. Many a marriage is endured and 
maintained because whatever defects it has are compensated 
by the wife's relations with a woman friend. 

But let us return to Nancy, whose history illustrates the 
development of pubescent girls. We must leave one question 
unanswered because our case history gives us no clue about it. 
Was Nancy unconsciously in love with her brother-in-law, and, 
if so, what was the character of this love? The supposition 
that such feelings existed seems justified by the fact that 
during her stay in the hospital Nancy displayed extraordinary 
readiness to bring about a triangular situation or, as we con- 
jecture, to repeat it. To express her desire to be grown up, 
Nancy played at being in love with the doctor and being jealous 
of his wife. She also showed a lively curiosity about his 
eventual fatherhood. We have no doubt that this amorous 
game expressed a typical fantasy that was reinforced by her 
experiences in her sister's house. 

But what put Nancy into a frenzy of rage and rekindled 
all her old aggressions and guilt feelings was her jealousy of 
her sister's child. She had been partly deprived of 


fication at being a grownup when she herself was treated like 
a little child, and later the love to which she had a claim 
was given to another child, the newborn baby. Jealousy was 
the source of her fury against this baby, and her fits were 
a manifestation of her aggression. At the same time they were 
a form of flight from this aggression, as well as a form ofself- 
punishment. It is not without significance that Nancy suf- 
fered her first attack on the day her brother-in-law was burned 
as her own little brother had been burned several years earlier. 
She took particularly loving care of her brother-in-law and then 
collapsed in a fit. Later we learned from Nancy that whenever 
she took tender care of anyone she did it in order to mask 
her aggressiveness against that person. Her brother-in-law, 
just like the little niece, had deprived her of the love of her 
sister Anna; he was allied with Anna in the "secret" from which 
Nancy was excluded. 

In the hospital it could be observed how jealous Nancy was 
of the other "children" in the department. She waged a most 
intense struggle for the gratification denied her and discharged 
her emotional reactions to these denials in violent attacks. 
From the data supplied by her mother it is clear that she was 
engaged in a constant competitive and jealous struggle with 
all her siblings. 

Direct psychiatric observation during her treatment revealed 
that in the symptoms that constituted her puberty neurosis 
Nancy was really repeating childhood experiences. Her disap- 
pointment over her sister's failure to confide in her, combined 
with the increased vulnerability characteristic of puberty, 
had traumatic effects, so that Nancy, instead of developing 
normally, took a regressive step toward the past that is to' 
say, she endowed her current experiences with the emotional 
significance of events that had happened long before. She 
confessed to her physician that her little brother had been 
burned accidentally when she was 5 years old and that she was 
guilty of his death. She often had bloody dreams that re- 
produced this accident. Like every little girl, Nancy was 


jealous of her little brother and harbored death wishes against 
him, although certainly not in a conscious and consistent 
manner. The unexpected realization of these wishes through 
the sudden death of the child resulted in a severe shock and 
produced violent guilt feelings in her. 

We can conjecture that Nancy was angry and disappointed 
when her mother, after the death of her little son, took 
another baby to care for, instead of giving all her love to 
Nancy. However, her behavior, as it was reported by her 
mother, seems to have been determined by her sense of guilt 
rather than by aggression and spite. She took loving care of 
the new baby. We do not know with certainty how Nancy, 
at the age of 5, reacted to her mother's new pregnancy; but our 
experience in similar cases leads us to surmise that she had a 
dark foreboding of it and reacted to it with mixed feelings, even 
though her reaction was not entirely conscious. Certainly 
many elements in Nancy's dizzy spells and seizures reminded 
us of the symptoms from which the mother had suffered during 
the pregnancy that followed her little boy's death. These 
symptoms of the mother were imitated indirectly through the 
intermediary of the sister who, after her own pregnancy, 
behaved very much like her mother and who thus showed 
Nancy her mother's symptoms in a new edition, so to speak. 
Nancy probably knew that while her mother was pregnant 
with her she had suffered from "dizzy spells, in which she 
would tall." A short time before the onset of her illness, 
Nancy witnessed her mother's spells, "something like mine." 
Nancy thought that her mother had these spells because she 
worried about her; Nancy has worried about the brother who 
died, and added: "I actually blamed myself for his death." 
These remarks make us suspect that by her fits Nancy hoped 
to arouse her mother's concern, so that her mother would 
love her as she loved her dead brother. Her constant self- 
accusations and her statement that she never could get rid 
of the memory of the fatal accident showed that since her fifth 
year this girl had been crushed by her guilt feelings. This 


created a definite disposition in her. During the latency period 
such a disposition often manifests itself in the development 
of a personality with typical reaction formations. She became 
a religious, overdocile child, as is clear from the evidence given 
by her teachers, the nuns. It may be surmised that if her de- 
velopment had been undisturbed, she would have reacted to 
puberty by an intensification of this reaction formation, i.e., 
with still more marked religiosity and dutifulness. But the 
events of her sister's life were such that they were bound to 
reopen her old wounds, expecially since they took place in the 
most vulnerable period of her puberty. 

Nancy's traumatic experience was a blow against her triangu- 
lar situation, against the sharing in the secret that gratified 
her, and against the wish to be treated as a grownup. Again 
and again Nancy reiterated that she had been cheated, that 
talse promises had been made to her, thereby arousing her 
tury, of which she was quite aware. Moreover, we must 
consider Nancy's relation to her sister, despite their great 
difference in age, as a two-girl relation for a certain time. 
Because Anna's love relation was forbidden and had to be 
guarded as a "secret," the grown-up sister had played the role 
of a young girl to whom certain things are prohibited. In 
her relation with her sister Nancy enjoyed various gratifica- 
tions, one of which was for her of the greatest importance. 
Because she shared in the life of this grown-up sister who was 
limited in her freedom just as Nancy herself was, and because 
of Anna's confidence in her, Nancy could feel like a grownup 
in this relation and it helped to strengthen her consciousness 
of her ego. As soon as this ego-strengthening position had 
to be given up, Nancy's identification with her sister assumed 
a regressive character, her adjustment to reality collapsed, and 
she fell sick. 

Normally, Nancy would have had the opportunity of seeing 
the partial fulfillment of her pregnancy fantasies these are 
always a component of the psychologic life of pubescent girls 
in her sister's pregnancy. In that case she might have reacted 


with minor pregnancy symptoms and then have awaited the 
birth of the child in tense expectation, just like her sister. 
Later she would have loved and cared for the baby with her. 
But the collapse of the triangle resulted in Nancy's first trauma; 
then came her sister's pregnancy, the birth of the child, jeal- 
ousy and aggression in relation to this child, and reactive 
feelings of guilt. Her brother-in-law's accident, by its similar- 
ity with her little brother's accident, revived her memories 
of the latter, and thus added a new burden to her already 
great inner tension. Disappointed, angry, and guilty, she fell 
into a state in which, instead of letting her fantasy life develop 
into one of normal femininity, she entered a regressive path, 
i.e., she unconsciously identified herself with her pregnant 
sister and in her subsequent morbid actions reproduced several 
elements of her childhood relations with her mother. 

She provoked an operation during which she had the op- 
portunity to express her rage and fears. Her rage was dis- 
charged above all upon the nurse who assisted in the operation 
and was characteristically connected with the element of 
surprise. Thus she expressed her protest against the fact 
that things were held back from her, that secrets were kept 
from her. It is interesting to note that her sister too was 
surprised by the somewhat premature birth of her child. 

Later we learned that Nancy had not adequately discharged 
her aggression and fear during the operation. Her attacks 
revealed a considerable amount of unspent rage. She also said 
that after her operation she developed a fear that she did not 
give up throughout her stay in the hospital, a fear that some- 
thing had been left in her stomach that would later endanger 
her health. 

This craving for operations in pubescent girls is well known; 
we know also that surgical intervention at this time later 
creates the wish for its repetition. To satisfy this need re- 
peated operations are necessary and, typically enough, the 
appendix usually seems most suitable for the role of agent 
provocateur. Such operations gratify rape, pregnancy, and 


childbirth fantasies, and they are effective because they are 
real experiences in which anxiety can be discharged. Some- 
times the operation achieves what is expected of it; often, 
however, it results only in increased psychologic tension that 
gives rise to the desire for repetition. If Nancy had not 
developed the fits that enabled her to discharge her emotions, 
she would probably have become a typical candidate for 
turther operations. 

The interpretation of the operation as a symbolic childbirth 
seems confirmed by Nancy's dreams ("to perform an operation, 
to bring a baby into the world"). In the "baby broken to 
pieces" the same destructive idea reappeared as in Nancy's 
tears after the operation. She was still full of these ideas 
during her stay in the hospital and the probable purpose of 
her assertion that she had swallowed a penny was to provoke 
the taking of an Xray of her abdomen. She felt that destruc- 
tion threatened her own body as well as her sister's child, as 
she later confirmed directly. She confessed to the woman 
doctor that she hates her niece and has had completely con- 
scious murderous impulses toward her. She herself was sur- 
prised by them because she loved the little girl "more than 
anyone on earth." She also accused herself of cruelty toward 
little animals and toward her younger sister, and of impulses 
of hatred toward babies, whom at the same time she loved, etc. 
Many things she said and did showed how much she was 
tormented by harrowing feelings of guilt. Her confessions 
often had the character of self-accusations that were in sharp 
contrast to her oft-repeated accusations against other people. 

The seeming peculiarities in Nancy's behavior can easily be 
explained. The contradictions must be ascribed to the tact 
that her emotional reactions, detached from the awareness of 
time, took place simultaneously in different strata of her 
psychologic life. At first she wanted to share in events as a 
third partner, then she wanted to love and take care of a child 
like a sexually mature woman. This disappointed girl was 
exceedingly jealous of her sister's newborn baby. She killed 


it in her fantasy with the same cruelty she had harbored, when 
she was 5 years old, against her brother. In her unconscious 
she cut to pieces the body of her mother (or sister), while 
on the other hand she experienced the gratification of child- 
birth, the horror of being cut to pieces herself, and the threat 
of death in the operation on her own person. She was con- 
scious of her apprehension that her mother might die and of 
her fear tor her sister's life; but the aggression concealed behind 
her tear remained unconscious and was discharged in her at- 

Nancy's case history contains another element that typically 
tollows an operation in puberty. The feeling that the ap- 
pendix has remained in the body, that something else ought 
to be cut out, that "something is wrong" inside, is characteristic 
of girls who think that their bodies have been damaged. The 
child that Nancy had "killed" was a boy, and it is natural 
to suppose that at that time physical sex differences played 
an important part in the development of her feeling of jealousy, 
and that the old reaction manifested itself again in the convic- 
tion that "something was wrong." Our case history does not 
unequivocally confirm this supposition, although it does permit 
us to construe several of Nancy's symptoms as repetitions of 
intantile experiences. 

There is a strong suspicion that despite her pregnancy 
tantasies, Nancy's puberty orientation was in the direction 
of a relationship with her mother, later of a relation with her 
sister. She hated the little niece as she hated her little brother, 
because she herself wanted to be her mother's best-loved 
child. From the unsuccessful triangle the path leads back to 
the phase of childhood that, as we have seen, reappears in pre- 
puberty that is to say, to the mother, with the whole hatred- 
love orientation of the girl who, while already struggling for 
liberation, remains connected with her mother by her old 
ties and guilt feelings 

The fact that Nancy also fell into the complications of the 
Oedipus situation and that many elements of her neurosis were 


connected with it, is not in contradiction with what we have 
just said. The triangular situation subsists, but at the same 
time we are confronted with the new edition of the Oedipus 
situation, in the relations that Nancy had with her brother- 
in-law, as we suppose, and that we can observe her having with 
the doctor. In the history of her childhood, her father re- 
mained a very shadowy figure. 

Another typical process of puberty is illustrated in the fol- 
lowing case. 

Helen is a 1 5-year old girl, very pretty and very talented. Her parents 
have been separated for two years, and she lives with her mother and her 
sister Susie, who is three years older than she is. Her father and older 
brother have left the home. Susie has always been her father's favorite, 
while Helen had a very harmonious and tender relationship with her mother. 
The sister has always been a placid girl, as a result of her mildly obsessional 
tendencies, and inclined to perfectionism. She was a model pupil in school, 
while at college, where she was studying music, she was one of the outstanding 
students in the class. Helen has always been an unruly child, and Susie 
has been her model. The separation of the parents caused a certain re- 
grouping among the children, because the extremely fair and understanding 
mother realized that she had to give more attention to Susie, who was now 
without her father. Helen did not display direct jealousy, and in the last 
few years before she sought treatment her relation to Susie actually deepened. 
She worshiped her sister, took her advice even more willingly than her 
mother's, and planned after finishing high school to go to the same college in 
which Susie was making such a fine name for herself. 

Susie has had a boy friend for the past few years, with whom she shared 
her musical interests. They became engaged, and Helen, who was very fond 
of Bill, approved of this engagement. Then she began to show such changes 
in her personality that her mother realized that she needed psychiatric help. 
In the first place, without any apparent reason, she became very hostile 
toward Susie. Every time Susie was to come home from college to visit 
her family, Helen warned her mother with a mysterious smile that "evil 
things" would happen, but refused to divulge any details. She was not 
inclined to fall in love, and, in contrast to Susie, had always been a popular 
girl who liked to be surrounded by many worshipers, without showing pref- 
erence for any one of them. Shortly before Susie's most recent visit home 
from college, Helen told her mother that she now had a boy friend. Her 
mother had the impression that Helen was not really interested in this boy, 
and that she had taken the first one who came along. After Susie's arrival 


there were two young couples in the home. Susie's behavior continued to be 
decorous, while Helen began to visit night clubs and bars with her boy friend. 
To all her mother's or sister's attempts to criticize her, Helen replied spite- 
fully that they would do better to concern themselves with Susie's behavior. 
Helen let herself be caught, obviously deliberately, in very intimate situa- 
tions with Ralph, and whenever her mother reproached her for this, she told 
her to watch Susie. But what particularly upset the mother was that 
Helen, who had always been extremely truthful, now began to lie. She 
lied to her mother without any reason whatsoever, knocked about more and 
more in night clubs, and compromised the reputation of a highly respectable 

Atter treating Helen for a period of two weeks, I found that 
the separation of her parents and her mother's increased in- 
terest in Susie had aroused violent emotional reactions in Helen. 
But her jealousy of her older sister did not manifest itself as 
long as her love and admiration for the latter continued. One 
might even say that Helen combated her "spiteful teelings" 
by bestowing even more devotion upon Susie and elevating 
her to the position of the younger girl's ideal. Susie's engage- 
ment surely created for Helen a situation similar to that 
created for Evelyn by her sister's affection for her boy friend 
(seep. 40). 

The difference between these two cases lies first of all in the 
tact that these two girls belonged to different social groups. 
Moreover, Helen's relation to Susie, who was her ideal, was 
on a higher level of development than that of Evelyn to Mary. 
Helen was not only, like Evelyn, deserted by her sister in tavor 
of a boy, but the resultant situation produced a flaw in her 
ideal. If Helen saw Susie and Bill exchange one tender glance 
or one kiss, she immediately started constructing sexual 
fantasies of her own and projecting them on Susie. First, 
there was a period during which she was constantly obsessed 
by the thought, "What are they doing together?" and imagined 
the most ardent erotic situations; when she later saw them 
reserved and controlled, she thought contemptuously, "What 
an actress my sister is!" and pitied her poor mother, who was 
in her opinion being deceived by the supposedly virtuous 


Susie. When she could no longer identify herself with Susie 
as an ideal figure, she began to identify herself with theSusie 
her fantasy had lowered to the status of a debauched liar. I 
was soon able to reassure the mother that nothing serious had 
actually taken place between Helen and her boy friend, that 
Helen had remained as chaste and truthful as before, and 
that it would be easy to reduce all this behavior to a temporary 
symptom. This promise was kept, and today Helen, who came 
fully to understand her own case, is an assistant counselor 
in a girl's camp under a leader whom she worships. She herself 
enjoys being an ideal figure in relation to the younger girls. 

As a rule this kind of identification with an ideal model is a 
favorable contribution to psychologic development. Helen 
was quickly cured after she was given a new opportunity to 
make such an identification. 

During puberty, identification is a complicated and in- 
dividually varying process that makes a necessary and im- 
portant contribution to the further elaboration and strengthen- 
ing of the ego. It often rescues a still weak personality or leads 
to renunciation of personality. We have seen that Nancy tell 
neurotically ill because she had sexualized her identification 
with her older sister, and that Evelyn's wish to be grownup 
and experience the same things as her older sister brought her 
to an unfortunate pass. But even the most favorable kind 
of identification, an idealization that expresses the wish "to 
be as good as you are/' can become dangerous. Helen's history 
is an excellent example of this type of development. 

We know that the process of identification plays an important 
part in the relation of the child to his parents, and later in all 
his educational experiences. Observation of adults teaches 
us that we rarely meet personalities sufficiently strong and 
integrated not to make use of identifications with others. We 
do this in our thinking, acting, and creating, and people whose 
emotional life is disturbed identify themselves with others also 
in their emotions. Absolute originality is probably a quality 


peculiar to genius alone. Throughout puberty and adolescence 
identification plays such an important part that we shall have 
to return to this process again and again. 

Like identification, the triangle of early puberty can survive 
lor a long time. As an expression of bisexuality it can become 
the battleground of heterosexual and homosexual conflicts, 
lend the distribution of ambivalent feelings (love and hatred) 
a definite form, and combine the masculine-active and feminine- 
passive impulses into a whole that is often extremely com- 

We have examined the bisexual triangle in order to stress the 
progression in the development from homosexual friendship 
to hetorosexuality. But the triangle may also be arrested 
at an intermediary stage, and all three partners may be of the 
same sex. Love of two girls for the same woman (teacher, 
artist, etc.), with or without jealousy, is very frequent. Friend- 
ships in which two girls ally themselves against a third, but 
with changing roles, so that the persecuted third one is not 
always the same, are also typical. More normal and more 
progressive is the mixed triangle (like Natasha's); the masculine 
corner in such a triangle is often occupied by the brother of 
one of the girls. 

The presence of a strongly bisexual tendency shortly before 
the conflicts of adolescence, that is, at its beginning, is less 
repressed in girls than in boys. In this period of their life girls 
are quite willing to stress their masculinity, while the boy is 
ashamed of his femininity and denies it. "Tomboy" is often a 
compliment, "sissy" always an insult. This bisexual phase 
affords us an opportunity to observe the two components 
homosexuality and heterosexuality before the synthesis has 
been accomplished in the process of maturation. The gradual 
disintegration of the homosexual component is more favorable 
for later development than its sudden interruption through 
disappointment. Similarly the girl's sexual development 
may take an unfavorable course if a strong heterosexual attack 


from outside prematurely drives her from homosexual friend- 
ship into heterosexuality. If the outcome is to be favorable, 
the development should be gradual. 

If the young girl, as a result of her own inhibitions or external 
circumstances, is unable to objectivize her feelings toward both 
sexes, whether in direct relations or sublimations, her bisexual 
tendencies may remain locked up in her psyche without an 
object. Her problem is this dangerous case is not "Do I love 
men or women?" or "How will I manage these two emotional 
tendencies ?" but "Am I a man or a woman ?" Her psychologic 
indecision is expressed in a typical fantasy in which she plays 
alternately feminine and masculine parts. This fantasy has 
a predecessor in early childhood and is preserved for years in 
its original form or a modified one: "I once had a brother 
[often a twin brother]; I lost him, but I remember him very 
well." Girls often richly embroider this theme. The brother 
is endowed with all the qualities that the girl would like to 
have herself, or he is blamed for all the impulses repressed 
and rejected by the girl's ego. Referring to her childish mis- 
demeanors she maintains that it was he who was so "wicked" 
and "dirty," not she. With many children this double assumes 
such a real character that they give him a name, have conversa- 
tions with him, and in general behave as though he actually 
existed. Such tantasies often take on a pseudologic character 
and are communicated to others as truth. The fate of this 
lost brother is related to the listener, and it is often a tragic 
tate. One girl I know used to shed bitter tears as she de- 
scribed the premature death of this beloved brother who never 
existed. The feeling that such a brother did exist often 
assumes the character of a vague memory, and this is an 
interesting example of the girl's "inner perception" of her 
own masculinity. 

A fantasy describing the young girl's own lost boyishness 
sometimes more consciously expresses wish fulfillment. The 
girl imagines that she is a boy or answers the question "Am 


I a girl or boy?" in a manner that satisfies both tendencies. 
Waking or sleeping, she invents a more or less fantastic 
situation in which she sometimes figures as a boy and sometimes 
as a girl. Or she is more realistic and expresses her bisexual 
wish through simple disguises. 

A classic illustration of this is the case of Betty, described 
by Peter Bios, 6 who in dreams by night was sometimes dressed 
as a boy and sometimes as a girl. There is scarcely a girl who 
has not had such fantasies for a shorter or longer period. 
They do not all admit having them as freely as Betty did, and 
are not as conscious of them as Betty was. The fact that 
Betty struggled so much against these fantasies, that she 
performed the most complicated bodily exercises in order tc 
get rid of them and in order not to be disturbed by them in her 
sleep, is also very typical. From numerous girls with similar 
fantasies, I have learned that this effort really represented 
their struggle against masturbation. The fantasies constituted 
the content of their bisexual masturbatory activities; the exer- 
cises served both to gratify their desires and to combat them. 

Returning to the three girls whose case histories we have dis- 
cussed above, we can observe that two of them, Evelyn and 
Nancy, suffered trauma in the typical triangular situation; 
the traumatic experience led Evelyn to premature actions 
instead of to fantasies. Through her flight Evelyn tried to 
realize her prostitution fantasies without in fact having any 
real interest in sexual activity. Nancy reacted to the trauma 
by more complicated neurotic behavior. The unconscious 
pregnancy fantasy that is almost always present in puberty 
was strengthened in her and assumed a pathologic form as a 
result of events in her immediate surroundings. She ex- 
perienced this fantasy in a regressive manner, that is, with 
a renewal of old vengeance-rage-anxiety and guilt feel- 
ings. Under pressure of these, she exhibited the symptoms 
of her illness, her attacks and other neurotic reactions. Helen's 

5 BLOS, P.: Op. cit. 


trauma resulted from her depreciation of the object that she 
still urgently needed for purposes of identification. All three 
cases have given us an insight into the processes of puberty. 

The objection that these cases illustrate morbid rather than 
normal processes is not without justification. But we have 
tried to see the normal behind the morbid and to understand 
pathologic reactions as the typical result of certain car- 
acteristic disturbances of the normal development of girls. 

The successful treatment of young girls can be completed 
sooner if one keeps in mind the normal behavior typical of the 
patient's phase of development. If, for instance, it seems 
necessary to place a pubescent young girl in another milieu, 
our choice must not be guided exclusively by considerations 
of the cultural level, the favorable emotional atmosphere, and 
the presence of favorable influences, although these factors 
should of course be taken into account. In the main we 
should be guided by our knowledge that we are dealing with 
a traumatic disturbance or inhibition of definite developmental 
tendencies. Our therapeutic or pedagogic aim should be the 
ultimate correction of this disturbed development. In Nancy's 
case, the treatment consisted in the creation of a corrected 
triangle in which she had the opportunity to act like a normal 
growing girl. Our understanding of the typical puberty 
situation pointed the way: first a girl friend of the same age, 
then, with her, under equal conditions of rivalry, relations with 
boys, and gradual preparation for catching up with her delayed 
development. It turned out and according to our experience 
this was to be expected that Nancy reacted quite well to this 
situation, but that she later developed the tendency to re- 
produce her traumatic experience in a milder form, that is, 
to involve herself in violent rivalries that provoked great 
hatred in her. These struggles were carried on in two forms: 
jealousy of the friend as competitor for the love of the mother 
(foster mother), and a maturer form of competition in the 
relation of both girls with boys. She again felt that her friend 
had betrayed her and the original traumatic situation returned 


in a weakened form. By continued psychotherapeutic treat- 
ment it was possible to cure the child of this neurotic tendency 
to repetition; she has been secure against further seizures since 
she achieved a good relation with her woman doctor and since 
she has been placed in a favorable milieu. 

In the case of Evelyn, the treatment met with difficulties 
from the outside and could not be completed. From our 
knowledge of her psychic situation, it would seem proper to 
give her an opportunity of playing, in a more orderly gang, 
the role that was once so satisfying to her and in which she was 
disturbed by her mother. At home she would have had an 
opportunity to gratify her growing motherliness in her relation 
to her mother's newborn baby, provided of course that her 
psychiatrist had succeeded in weakening her feeling of guilt 
A harmonious juxtaposition of tomboyishness in gang activities 
and femininity at home can be very successful at Evelyn's age; 
and a correct treatment could have achieved this goal. 

Helen's difficulties, as we have seen, were easily solved 
once her situation was understood. 

The reader will note that I have drawn a boundary line 
between early puberty and later puberty. I assume that 
marked bisexual tendencies are characteristic of the former, 
and that strong heterosexual tendencies are characteristic 
of the latter. Infantile features persist in both phases; hence 
early puberty can be considered the second edition of the 
childhood phase, which is characterized by irresolution in the 
choice of objects and by wavering in choice between mother 
and father (or substitute persons). Later puberty was named 
by Freud 6 the second edition of the Oedipus situation, because 
at this period the young girl's relations to boys still include 
many old unsolved elements of the father tie. The dif- 
ferentiation into two phases that I have attempted here seems 
important to me. Of course the various phases of development 
cannot be sharply separated from one another, and processes 
of early puberty may continue throughout the whole of puberty 

FREUD, S.: Op. cit. 


and adolescence and even longer. The case of Nancy offers 
a particularly clear example of such a juxtaposition of two 
phases of development. The new phase attacked her, so to 
speak, before she had been able to bring the preceding one to 
relative completion. 

Sometimes development proceeds slowly, step by step, 
through the gradual addition of new elements; at other times, 
the entire picture of one phase of development is strongly 
differentiated from that of the preceding one, while at the same 
time isolated elements of this earlier phase still manifest them- 
selves. For instance, we have seen what an important part 
was played by the relation with the "other girl" in prepuberty. 
This relation assumes different aspects in accordance with the 
degree of psychologic development. Giggling and secrecy 
or the danger of sexual imitation, ideal formation or ardent 
homosexual passion, may all develop in the period of matura- 
tion that extends over several years from prepuberty to 
adulthood. Exactly the same is true of the heterosexuality 
of puberty, which should free itself from previous ties, but 
which may preserve them until well into adulthood. 

The processes that take place in the stormy years from 
puberty to maturity are so rich in content, and are determined 
by so many factors, that it is difficult to speak of them as homo- 
geneous. For the sake of simplification, we shall discuss the 
psychologic reactions to the biologic processes that reach their 
climax in menstruation separately from the processes of matura- 
tion of the ego. In the latter discussion it will hardly be 
possible to draw a clearly defined line between puberty, which 
is still strongly under the influence of the biologic onslaught, 
and adolescence. In our terminology, we shall ascribe to 
adolescence a slow and long elaboration of the process of 
maturation. In this period, the final foundations are laid 
for the future personality of the adult, and the fate of the 
mature woman is decided. 


Puberty and Adolescence 

IN THIS chapter we shall discuss the personality of the young 
girl during adolescence. The psychologic events that take 
place in this period are initiated during prepuberty and 
continue in early puberty; adolescence is the period of the de- 
cisive last battle fought before maturity. The ego must achieve 
independence, the old emotional ties must be cast off, and new 
ones created. 

Biologic development brings in its train great qualitative 
and quantitative changes, in both the physiologic and psycho- 
logic spheres, and as a result of these changes the adolescent 
ego is confronted with new difficulties. The emotions, because 
of their close connection with the instinctual life, are more 
affected by the process of growth than any other part of the 
personality and therefore present us with the most interesting 
problems of adolescence. 

The liberation of the growing child from infantile dependen- 
ces proceeds along various paths, of which one, as said above, 
is the loosening of the old affective ties. The emotions are the 
manifestation of dynamic psychic energy and make use of vari- 
ous means of expression; they constitute the most elementary 
reaction of the individual to the outside world, from the wailing, 
weeping, or lusty shouting of the baby to the most complicated 
direct and indirect relations of the mature adult to exterior 
objects and to himself. For this reason, the loosening of 
emotional ties raises the question: What happens to the 
psychic energy in adolescence what outlet do the emotions 
find to take the place of the old ties? In order to answer this 
question, we must to some extent anticipate. 

In the process of loosening the old ties, identification plays an 
important part. Like the emotions, the identifications of the 



adolescent go through the phase of "severance actions" and 
must be discussed from this point of view. 

In both cases, the means of liberation is sought in devaluation 
of previous objects, regardless of earlier relations. The shaping 
of the adolescent's own personality may be in large measure the 
product of his successful identification with his parents; but 
some part of him seeks new possibilities of identification, reject- 
ing the parents as objects. The devaluation made in this 
connection is to some extent rationally justified even in prepu- 
berty. An increasingly critical attitude and a greater adapta- 
tion to reality gradually bring about abandonment of the 
intantile overestimation of the parents, and the pendulum 
begins to swing in the opposite direction: the parents are now 
underestimated. We have observed the strong urge to mani- 
fold identifications characteristic of prepuberty. At that time 
these identifications have the rather primitive character of 
playful imitations; later, in early puberty, although still split 
by bisexuality, they are consolidated to some extent in the 
relation to the girl friend. Now, in adolescence, they achieve 
further unification or succumb to an abnormal fate. 

The emotions also utilize the mechanism of devaluation to 
loosen the ties binding them to formerly loved objects and thus 
give a rational motive to the adolescent's newly arisen aggres- 
sive hate tendencies. 

An interesting feature of this devaluation tendency, which 
deserves some emphasis, is that actually it is not quite as serious 
as it seems to be, for once the dangers of puberty are overcome, 
adolescents pften resume loving the objects previously rejected, 
and may even be proud of their own similarity to them. But 
if the devaluation tendency is accompanied by a new and real 
motive, it can become a serious threat to the young girl's 
emotional life and the development of her ego ideal and exert an 
unfavorable influence on her subsequent destiny. During the 
attempt to rescue the ego ideal, the place of the parents is taken 
for a while by other persons who answer the requirements of the 
young better than the parents. Their ego ideal is molded and 


tested against their teachers, group leaders, etc.; a part of the 
love that until then was given to the parents is for a time 
transferred to these objects. As the adolescents grow more 
mature, however, these newer objects too are critically devalu- 
ated, and their place is taken by an abstract ego ideal, the reali- 
zation of which is reserved for the future. The identifications 
with heroes, leaders, etc., made in a group or ideologic movement 
are valuable, but they cannot satisfy the need for a personal 
relation. Only such a relation, and not a substitute for it, can 
give the emotional life the character of a real object relation. 

The processes described here are prepared in prepuberty and 
continued in early puberty. In discussing these phases we 
have emphasized the necessity of individual emotional rela- 
tions. Naturally, the course of adolescence depends upon the 
preceding developments. For this reason it will be useful, 
before trying to answer our question as to the fate of the aftec- 
tive energy, to recall the process of maturation that was dis- 
cussed in the chapter on prepuberty. We showed that the 
processes used in making the adjustment to reality in this 
period represent an offensive and have nothing or little to do 
with the defensive processes developed for the control of the 
sexual instincts. Maturation in prepuberty consists in an 
aggressive thrust of activity that gradually loses its original 
intensity. Part of this thrust disappears under pressure of 
more passive tendencies, while the rest is replaced by other 
methods of adjustment to reality. The passive tendencies are 
of the greatest importance for the further development of the 
girl toward femininity, with which we shall deal later. 

There is no doubt that the rising sexual urge in adolescence 
provokes fears and mobilizes defensive forces that make several 
important contributions to the psychologic picture of this 
period of life. Anna Freud 1 has made an extensive study of 
these defense mechanisms. She considers the adolescent ego 
the center of defense against the dangers involved in the sexual 

1 Op. cit. 


urges. We must add that in adolescence, just as in the previous 
phases, the ego manifests powerful developmental thrusts that 
do not depend directly and exclusively on sexual processes. 

We shall now consider another problem that is of very great 
importance in the psychology of adolescence. It involves 
those emotional forces that are directed toward the young girl's 
own ego or that, even when directed toward other persons, have 
a certain specific character. Earlier in our study, when we 
discussed the young girl's relationship with her girl friend, we 
said that it was narcissistic, by which we meant that the ego 
draws advantages for itself from its love for the other. By a 
process of identification with the friend, the girl's weak ego 
extends its own limits and gains some self-confidence. 

The increase of narcissistic forces in the ego seems to play an 
important part in the process of maturation. Intensification of 
narcissism is generally regarded as a negative symptom. We 
encounter it in pathologic cases and also know it as a dangerous 
enemy of positive emotional relations to objects in the outside 
world. Nunberg, who called attention to the double role of 
narcissism and analyzed both its negative and positive aspects, 
points out that "since narcissism is essential for life, one might 
assume that narcissism strengthens the ego." 2 

During adolescence narcissism is very active in both ways, 
but its positive aspect at this time is especially noteworthy. In 
the first place, it has a certain unifying force that prevents dis- 
solution of the young girl's personality as a result of too many 
identifications. In the second place, by increasing her self- 
confidence, it contributes considerably to strengthening the 
youthful ego. However, it certainly also exerts a negative 
influence on the ego; and it is this double action that gives rise 
to the movement back and forth, the ebb and tide of overween- 
ing pride and contrition, in brief, the whole picturesque medley 
that is the psychologic pattern of adolescence. 

The problem of the sources of narcissism brings us back to 

1 NUNBRRO, H.: Ego strength and ego weakness. Am. Imago, vol. 3, no. 3, 1942. 


the fate of the emotions, which in puberty normally turn away 
from childhood objects. We can now answer our question 
about these emotions: they are turned toward the ego itself, 
the affective energy puts itself at the disposal of the ego in the 
shape of "intensified narcissism" and supplies it with important 
additional strength. Thus the process of psychologic consoli- 
dation initiated during prepuberty in friendships with girls of 
the same age continues. From the girl friend, identification is 
transferred to persons on the model of whom the gill's own ego 
is formed; by and by identification with others grows weaker, 
and identification with one's own ego all the stronger. The 
formation of the personality makes important progress; the 
adolescent becomes aware of the "I am I." 

Thus the emotional vacuum between a world that is disap- 
pearing and another that has not yet come into being is filled by 
the emotions now turned toward the own ego. As though 
spontaneously the girl who wondered "Whom shall I love now?" 
and "Who will love me?" takes her own person as her object; 
and this fact determines many of the psychologic manifesta- 
tions of puberty. It leads first to greater self-confidence, to 
the "arrogant megalomania" of adolescence. But an excess of 
narcissism makes relations with other people difficult. The 
adolescent's narcissistic ego is extremely exacting and ex- 
tremely sensitive to love frustrations; it is easily disappointed 
in its expectations of being loved and admired. Hence the 
adolescent's intolerance of any criticism, especially on the part 
of members of the family. In the emotional give and take a 
disturbance occurs through increase of the "give" and decrease 
of the "take." The result of this is the feeling, "Nobody loves 
me." The adolescent girl's realization that her own capacity 
tor love is also limited leads to a feeling of solitude. Because 
of the connection between the two currents intensified self- 
confidence and emotional solitude the quality of a subjective 
experience can also be ascribed to the latter. The feeling of 
solitude arouses exaltation, for example, in the form, "From 


the watch tower of divine solitude I look down on the common 

During adolescence such an orientation can be considered 
normal. But in many individuals it continues beyond adoles- 
cence if their affective life does not outgrow this phase. 

Although this feeling of solitude is exalting in a normal 
development, it also creates a pain that cannot be overcome 
even with the help of narcissistic self-confidence. An unbear- 
able tension arises from the need not only to be loved but also 
to love. Because of this tension the youthful person turns to 
new objects with real avidity and experiences every stirring of 
emotion with ecstatic exuberance. This is extremely charac- 
teristic of the youth of both sexes. 

One result of the adolescent's overestimation of his own 
emotional experiences is his willingness to sacrifice l 'every thing' ' 
tor the beloved. Actually, this loved object may very easily 
and very quickly be given up for the sake of another. And the 
adolescent's explanation is that the previous object was not the 
true object, but this one is. The erotic readiness to fall in love 
again and again is stronger in the girl than in the boy, but she 
is less conscious of the sexual character of these feelings than 
he. In like manner, the wish to be loved by many and to col- 
lect men's "broken hearts" is characteristic of the female ado- 
lescent. However, this hunt for masculine hearts rarely 
expresses a purely narcissistic need. Close investigation usually 
reveals that these trophies are intended to be shown to definite 
persons, such as the mother, who in reality or in the imagination 
of the girl is still trying to deny her daughter adult femininity, 
or the father, whose respect the girl hopes to win by this indirect 
method. Often the relation with a girl friend, whose envy or 
admiration she wishes to excite, spurs her on in this campaign 
for broken hearts. 

The girl's subjective feelings of great love are not always 
bestowed upon an objectively existing and actually accessible 
human being; often they are directed toward an object that she 
barely knows or does not know at all. The deepest ecstasies of 


love are experienced in fantasy, and these feelings are endowed 
with the character of object love. In such cases only the 
experience of loving is important; the beloved person need not 
necessarily have any objective reality. 

We find an excellent example of such a love in the diary of 
the Russian princess Maria Bashkirtseft. 3 As a rule one cannot 
put too much faith in diaries. But this one is tor the most part 
sincere and describes Maria's feelings as she actually experi- 
enced them, because she had a great gift for introspective 
analysis and was strongly exhibitionistic. She was precocious, 
and her adolescence began earlier than that of the average girl. 
Maria's narcissism was certainly unusually strong; but aside 
trom this, the torms in which she manifested it were typical of 

For many months Maria was in love with a certain Duke of 

H , whom she did not know at all: "1 had seen him a dozen 

times on the street, him, who did not know that I am in exist- 
ence/' Although she might have been loved by-many other 

prominent men, the Duke of H , who had no interest in her, 

was at the center of her most ardent love fantasies, and all her 
feminine ambitious plans for the future were built around this 
man. She fancied that she would be very famous, that all men 
would lie at her feet, but that she would choose him alone among 
all of them. "To see thousands of persons, when you appear 
upon the stage, await with beating heart the moment when you 
begin to sing; to know, as you look at them, that a single note 
of your voice will bring them all to your feet; to look at them 
with a haughty glance that is my desire," she wrote. "And 

then in the midst of this the Duke of H will come with the 

others to throw himself at my feet, but he shall not meet with 
the same reception as the others. Dear, you will be dazzled by 
my splendor and you will love me/' 

This is one of the typical fantasies of an adolescent girl. As 
we see, all her capacity for experience is purely narcissistic, not 

8 BASHKJRTSEFF, M.: Journal of a young artist. New York: Cassel, 1889. 


only as regards the contents of her fantasy, but also as regards 
the characteristically imaginary object relation. But even 
here narcissism is not the only factor, for in these fantasies we 
always find the old object formations and in the platonic, 
ardently yearned-for lover we often recognize the features of 
the father. This is probably true also in the case of Maria 
Bashkirtseff, who was separated from her father at an early 
age and reconstructed him in her love fantasy. 

In other types of adolescent girls the narcissistic-exhibition- 
istic fantasy is not necessarily connected with an almost unreal 
love object, as was the case with Maria Bashkirtseff. For many 
the object is much more real, and the wish, "Love me, I am so 
wonderful, everyone admires me," is the core of every ambitious 
aspiration while often a girl's ambition collapses like a house 
of cards when the object of this wish disappoints her or is given 
up. However, in others, ambition and the desire to play an 
important part on the stage of life dominate the fantasy without 
centering necessarily on one definite person. 

What is true of erotic fantasies, in which the erotic longing 
in itself and not the beloved person is important, is also true of 
youthful enthusiasm for an "ideal." One often hears enthusias- 
tic girls exclaim: "Ah, if I only had an aim in life, a great idea 
for which I could live and die ... I would be ready to sacrifice 

The content of the fantasy is doubtless determined by the 
girl's cultural milieu. The modern girl, for instance, no longer 
daydreams of being on the stage and performing solo dances or 
singing love songs, as her mother did in her adolescence. The 
daughter may see herself as an orator inflaming the masses to 
revolutionary deeds or leading an ideologic movement that is 
of public interest at the moment. The attempt to realize such 
fantasies is the expression of a maturer stage of development. 
Even though the motives for this idealistic aspiration are of a 
selfish-ambitious nature, the activity that expresses it forms a 
bridge between the youthful ego and the surrounding world. 


The realization of such fantasies can be of great social value and 
simultaneously exert an educational influence in the further 
development of the young person. 

If the fantasies are not ideologic or social but purely egocen- 
tric in character, their realization in most cases leads to disap- 
pointment. Sometimes the immediate surroundings of the 
girl influence her fantasies. An ambitious father or a conceited 
mother often expects a young daughter to fulfil his or her own 
narcissistic wishes, to become a kind of instrument of these 
wishes. Such fantasies are doomed to failure when the persons 
around a young girl make her carry them into practice. The 
following case history offers an interesting illustration of this 
point. <iS 


Dorothy is a 1 5-year-old girl whose mother came to the social agency 
for advice concerning her daughter's defiant behavior toward her. Dorothy 
seems fairly intelligent and has some talent as a singer. Although a minor, 
she has embarked on a more or less professional career, and by giving her 
age as 1 8 has been able to get bookings during the summer and small engage- 
ments during the winter. She seems to be quite clever at putting a song 
across and when she appears with a group, she is the featured soloist. 


The mother is a small, thin, tense woman with a rather anxious and un- 
happy look. She is not particularly attractive and wears glasses, but makes 
some attempt to dress smartly. She talks readily, enunciating clearly. Her 
whole manner suggests a deeply deprived and very insecure person, distrust- 
ful of other people, somewhat withdrawn, and absorbed in her family. 

Recalling her own early life, she described her father as a brutal drunkard 
who many a time yanked his children out of bed at night in order to beat 
them. Her mother was not much concerned about them; the daughter feels 
that she always had to carry the burden and responsibility of the family. 
At the age of 13 she left home to do housework. She struggled bitterly, 
never knowing a moment of happiness. She continued to struggle after her 
marriage, because her husband has never earned much until recently. 

There is a son, John, who is two years Dorothy's senior. He is quiet and 
virtuous and presents no problems. The mother speaks of him with great 


praise and affection. She says that when they are alone in the house they 
sing together, because they are so happy with each other. 

Dorothy was a very much wanted child. The mother always wanted a 
girl with curly black hair who would be cute-looking and whom she could 
dress prettily. The mother's attitude toward the child is at first suggestive 
of the attitude of the parent of a Hollywood child prodigy: "I suppose I got 
pleasure from the compliments Dorothy received. Everybody likes her. 
She is prettier than I ever was." 

Neither she nor the father had enough training to enable them to earn 
a good living and they have known hard times. She says that she began 
Dorothy's training in singing many years ago and that the child has done 
very well. She implies by her words that she has a very gifted offspring 
who has to have special handling and that special rules apply to her. 

For a long time it has been understood between them that if the child 
embarked on a musical career, she must abide strictly by the moral code of 
her mother; that is the only condition on which the mother will allow her to 
take her singing engagements, which bring in quite a little money. The 
mother goes with the girl on her trips as often as she can, but usually Dorothy 
goes in a group. 

The father is apparently a passive partner in this marriage. He sits 
quietly at one side and says very little unless he is prodded. He has a rather 
patient face. In appearance Dorothy resembles him quite markedly. He 
once forgot himself and started to tell me what he was like as an adolescent, 
and how he enjoyed smoking. He was promptly interrupted by his wife. 

The mother tells how terribly worried she is about Dorothy, who is 
becoming too independent and sophisticated for a girl of her age. Recently 
she has been very defiant toward her mother. The latter brings out a great 
deal of resentment against Dorothy, saying that the girl is ungrateful for all 
that her mother has done for her, although she has slaved to do it. The 
mother considers herself a martyr; she has sacrificed for Dorothy, and now 
Dorothy won't obey her at all and that is "unfair." The mother expresses 
herself in terms like "right," and "wrong," "fair" or "unfair," and throughout 
stresses her conviction that a child should unquestioningly obey his or her 

Dorothy is so cruel to her. The mother supposes that Dorothy must grow 
away from her and that this is part of it, but it is not right. Sometimes 
Dorothy says that she hates her mother. The mother tells her right back 
she hates her. Then the mother begins to cry. "And I mean it! She is 
so wicked. If I had a choice I would send her to the army instead of John. 
He is good. Why should the good one have to go and the mean one remain ? 
Of course I love her, too. But why must she act that way to me? It's not 


She continues to complain that Dorothy is "unfair" to her, that she 
is "cheap" and "ungrateful." The mother can't endure it. She will tell 
the whole world and punish her daughter. 

"You want me to forgive her, but I can't." She says resentfully and 
hatefully that she will not be a doormat for Dorothy. "I don't say any- 
thing. I keep my feelings inside me and they pile up and then I can't keep 
them back any longer. I let them out on her. Then she is angry and it 
happens all over again. . . . It's not right for her to act so and I resent it 
and I cannot keep from showing it." 

The mother displays strong jealousy of her daughter. She obviously 
resents the fact that everyone thinks that Dorothy is such a fine girl, when 
actually she is mean. The mother contrasts her own lot with Dorothy's. 
She was never liked; nobody ever cared for her. This was not "right," 
because she was a conscientious, hard worker. Things never came easily 
and effortlessly to her as they have come to Dorothy. 

She quotes various people who say that she is to blame for all this trouble 
because she pushed Dorothy into a singing career, and the theatrical gang 
the girl now runs with is the cause of her misfortune. 

The most recent crisis apparently centers about the fact that Dorothy 
has begun to smoke. The mother does not approve of this and she has 
warned the child that it is not good for her breath control. But the girl 
is quite defiant and answers, "I like to smoke." The mother, however, is very 
rigid on this subject and declares vehemently that she will never approve of 
cigarettes and that the girl must not smoke. Smoking becomes a habit like 
a drug, it is dirty and filthy. Recently there have been a number of spats 
about this and Dorothy has accused her mother of being old-fashioned 
and prudish. 

The question of Dorothy's interest in boys was brought up; so far the 
mother does not feel this to be a problem. The mother knows that Dorothy 
has some interest in boys, but apparently not of a very intense kind. The 
mother is more troubled about the girl's liking for some rather undesirable 
girl friends. One of these girls has no father and talks continually about 
how mean her mother is to her and how she wants to run away from home. 
It is obvious that the mother fears that Dorothy may do the same thing. 
In fact, she has talked about getting an apartment of her own, which the 
mother feels is unwise. 

With a gesture of disgust the mother brought up Dorothy's interest in 
"queer people": "You know, men who like men and women who like women." 

She then spoke of the importance of being able to trust one's daughter; 
she does not know how far she can trust Dorothy. 

Again and again she speaks of how concerned she is about her daughter, 
of how she has no peace of mind, of how she wakes up in the night and thinks 


about the girl. Several times she complained that Dorothy does not come 
directly home after her signing engagements, but goes downtown with the 
group. The mother does not know where she is; often it is late at night; she 
does wonder what Dorothy does with her time. 

Throughout the interviews it was evident that the mother is panicky 
about Dorothy's manner of life, and that she has provoked Dorothy's ag- 
gressive protests by her attitude of condemnation and dislike. Soon it became 
evident that she hates her daughter, although she tries not to verbalize this. 
Dorothy has disappointed her by not coming up to her expectations. She 
continually connects two themes: her own unhappy youth, and Dorothy's 
popularity and ingratitude for all that has been done for her. 

Plans are made for Dorothy to go to a boarding school. The mother 
obviously gives up the idea of Dorothy's singing career with great difficulty. 
She suggests that Dorothy carry on her singing engagements in the evenings. 
But at the same time she expresses fears that upon such occasions Dorothy 
might come into contact with a married man who is interested in her. 


Dorothy says that she is a singer. She works throughout the school year, 
entertaining at banquets and night clubs. She finds it a little difficult, 
but she makes quite a lot of money. For example, she gets $7 for singing 
a few numbers at a banquet and thus she can buy her own clothes and help 
out quite a bit. Her story is that she and her mother do not agree on a 
number of questions. She feels that her mother doesn't realize that she is 
more grown up than she appears to be. 

The girl is intelligent. She has made some very keen observations of the 
people she works with and the people who frequent the night clubs, and feels 
that her mother is unable completely to understand her point of view. As 
an example, she knows that some of the singers and entertainers are homo- 
sexual. She likes one homosexual man very much and feels sorry for him. 
He is a decent enough fellow and is always very nice to her. 

Another bone of contention is her going out in the evening with certain 
men. She is always taken to be several years older than she really is and just 
now she has a young man whom she likes very much He is 25 years old and 
a detective. The mother feels that he is too old and too sophisticated for 
her, but the girl says that her mother doesn't know that some of the boys sht 
picks out for her daughter are no good at all; they make a good impression 
but are not nice when they get outside the house. 

She is especially resentful because the mother has suddenly taken to 
accompanying her on her evening engagements. She would not mind this 
if her mother had always come with her, but now that she has suddenly 
become suspicious of her, Dorothy feels that her mother goes with her only 


to watch her. She finds it especially hard to bear that after the performance 
the mother criticizes her and says that she should have smiled more or made 
more gestures. She says with a good deal of feeling: "After all, I know what 
I'm doing. I must be doing it fairly well or they wouldn't pay me." 

Furthermore, the mother doesn't trust her in anything. She lectures her 
by the hour and goes around and around in circles. Her litany goes something 
like this: "Girls who smoke sooner or later drink, and when they drink they 
lose control of themselves, and when they lose control of themselves they 
become bums. It all starts from smoking." 

Dorothy says that that kind of talk is silly, but you cannot change her 
mother's ideas about such things. She never drinks but she loves to have a 
cigarette when she is reading. She is now reading a book by John Gunther, 
in which she is extremely interested. 

Dorothy spent a good deal of time telling about the different books she 
has been reading; a volume of Confucius is one, Moment in Peking another. 
She is not interested in the Christian religion. She has arguments with her 
mother about that too, and the mother's rigid, unbending attitude only 
makes matters worse. The girl seems to have a great deal of energy. There 
is some indication that she feels seriously threatened by the contrast between 
herself and her brother. Her whole idea seems to be: "Come what may, I 
am not going to be like him. Mother is not going to squash me." 

She has a great many other complaints about her parents. They inhibit 
her in many ways. Both of them criticize her, especially her mother. They 
don't like her to 'go out with older men or to smoke, and her mother, for one, 
has told everyone that she is a bad girl. She is fed up all around. 

It is interesting to hear her because she has a very inquiring mind. She is 
full of herself at the moment and likes to flaunt what she knows about homo- 
sexuals, or let it be known that she has just read a psychologic discussion of 
some sexual abnormality. She describes an evening at home as being ex- 
tremely tiresome first one member of the family grunts, then another one 
grunts. They don't talk about anything interesting. The mother does 
nothing but hang around all day gossiping with the women downstairs and 
leaves the beds for Dorothy to make when she comes home. Therefore she 
takes a long time walking home from school. 

She finds her mother extremely irritating and both her parents boring. 
She is willing to try to change in some respects, but she is adamant about the 

Dorothy and her girl friend have been reading Freud. Recently <*he had 

quite a shock because a certain Anna M was her ideal woman and she 

has now learned that this woman is a lesbian. After saying this, Dorothy 
sat back to watch my reaction and compare it to her mother's. However, I 
showed great interest and asked her where she got this piece of information. 


I also asked her whether she believed everything she heard. Then it came 
out that she has always been eager to be a boy. She hates being a girl. I 
had an opportunity to show her that part of her hatred for her mother was 
due to this feeling of frustration, for which she blames her mother. "That is 
what it says in Freud's book," she said. "Is it really so?" 

Then she wanted to know whether boys have any troubles. I told her 
that they do, and she seemed relieved and pleased to know that there may be 
things that bother boys too. 

Dorothy continues to bring out a great deal concerning her experiences 
in the "world of the night club entertainers/' She is a sharp observer and is 
thinking constantly about what goes on around her. She has tried to form 
her own judgment of what is right and wrong, and says she has talked with 
all sorts of people. She complains that her mother wants to dominate her, 
and she is fighting with every ounce of strength in her to break away from this 
control. She deliberately sets out to do things that she has no real desire to 
do, simply to show her mother that she cannot rule her. This is quite con- 
scious on Dorothy's part, but often it leaves her with a feeling of remorse. 

Dorothy wants to discuss at great length the various anomalies she meets 
in night club life, for example perversions. She is getting a very good knowl- 
edge of the seamy side of life. She has been working about three nights a 
week and has earned quite a good deal of money lately, singing at private 
parties and entertaining. She says people treat her very decently, however; 
nobody "gets fresh." 

She dislikes high school intensely. She especially hates American history 
and simply does not want to go to her particular school any more if she can 
help it. She has been unhappy about it and that is why she played hooky and 
went to the movies. 

Last year she met a man who fascinated her. She met him in the night 
club and he is supposed to be quite a man with the ladies. She was very 
much flattered by his being attracted to her. She saw quite a lot of him last 
year, much to her mother's alarm, but finally got disgusted with him after she 
saw him with a young girl who was very much drunk and saw how he treated 
that girl. She takes quite an adult attitude about everything connected with 
sex and seems to be extremely irritated with her mother for snooping into her 

She says that her mother is always checking up on her and looking through 
her books; she "wishes to goodness" that her mother would stop that. I said 
we would talk with her mother about that and told her how lucky she was to 
be back in school. 

In an interview with the doctor the mother showed immense improvement. 
She was able to bring out many of her fears about her daughter and to verbal- 
ize the things that worry her most. To quote her words: "To think that I 


got her into that work, and that it is my fault if she is exposed to all these 
temptations. And to think that I nearly killed myself to give her the singing 

Since the mother has been gradually giving up her ambition for a Holly- 
wood career for her daughter and since Dorothy has returned to school, there 
is a better prospect that these two puberties Dorothy's, and the retarded 
puberty of her mother will eventually become relatively harmonious. 

Dorothy was a very pretty girl, with shining black eyes and 
curly black hair. Her figure was slim and supple, and her 
appearance reminded us of a definite Hollywood type. Her 
mother had worked hard and sacrificed a great deal to give the 
girl an opportunity to develop her modest musical talents. 
Dorothy was at the beginning of a stage career. She specialized 
in a type of art suitable to little theaters, had had successful 
summer engagements in resorts, and had also appeared during 
the winter as a paid singer at private entertainments. What 
was only a dream for thousands of schoolgirls of her age had 
become a reality tor Dorothy: actually, her experience was 
Maria BashkirtsefFs dream come true, short of the masses of 
men at her feet and the Duke of H . There was no appar- 
ent reason why Dorothy, once a part of her fantasy had been 
realized, should not expect the realization of the rest. What 
was striking in her interview with the woman doctor was the 
small part that her artistic career played in her mind. She 
mentioned her singing only in connection with her job, and her 
narcissistic gratification assumed the banal form of her argu- 
ment on her mother's criticisms: "I must be doing fairly well 
or they would not pay me." 

There was no Duke of H in her life, in any form. The 

only audience she mentioned was her mother, who criticized her 
and said she should have smiled more and made more gestures. 
Had Dorothy discovered that her talent was slight, or had her 
mother's criticisms discouraged her and aroused her hatred? 
Or did this hatred for her mother stem from other sources and 
was she taking revenge on her by destroying her expectations 
concerning her daughter's stage career? 


We learned that Dorothy's role as a stage star was the reali- 
zation of her mother's wish dreams and that in reality Dorothy 
had only served as her instrument. The mother had had many 
disappointments in her life and described her youth as the gray 
existence of an unattractive girl forced into dark corners. 
Beaten by her brutal father, this starving and suffering Cinder- 
ella probably renounced all her own puberty fantasies and 
postponed their realization to some distant future. Some day 
her pretty black-haired daughter would achieve what she her- 
self dared not even dream of. We knew directly only this part 
of the mother's puberty dream; but the other part of it was 
revealed in the ambitious plans she made for her daughter's 
career. Dorothy had fulfilled the prerequisite for these plans: 
she was a beautiful young girl. The mother took care of the 
rest by her hard, exhausting work, her sacrifices, energy, etc. 
Dorothy was a glamor girl; in her mother's fantasy she was 
probably a famous movie star. The former Cinderella felt that 
her daughter's fame would bring her too into a bright world. 

But Dorothy began to neglect her school work and preferred 
to spend her time with the theatrical people who were now her 
professional colleagues. She spoke of her gang with love and 
tenderness, saw the detects of its members with extraordinary 
keenness, and displayed a remarkable objectivity in her 
understanding of the perverted actions that took place in this 
group. She read scientific books that were not only far above 
the cultural level of her milieu but also beyond her own intelli- 
gence and comprehension. She learned that her older girl 
friend and colleague, who represented a sort of ego ideal for her, 
was a homosexual, and she reacted to this upsetting experience 
by attempting objectively to understand it. She read psycho- 
logic books, chiefly those of Freud, whose writings, she thought, 
dealt with such subjects. By coming home late at night and 
smoking cigarettes she aroused her mother's anger and fear, tor 
her mother thought that cigarette smoking was the first stage 
of moral decline in a young girl. 


In several respects Dorothy reminded us of Evelyn and 
similar young girls. She was happy to belong to a gang and to 
expose herself to its dangers; she had the feeling of security, and 
the conviction that nothing could happen to her, that are typi- 
cal of puberty. The maternal distrust excited her, just as it did 
Evelyn, to turious protests, and her confidence in herself led 
her, as did Evelyn's also, into a situation in which she was 
playing with fire. 

The unconscious conflict between Dorothy and her mother 
seemed clear to us. Dorothy was not going to fulfil her 
mother's dream: she had completely shifted her dominant 
interest from her stage ambition to her gang and was taking 
revenge on her mother because the latter, instead of giving her 
love and tenderness, made demands upon her. The wish dream 
typical of her age of appearing on the stage and being admired 
and loved had, because of its realization, become devalued and 
made banal in her eyes; it was entirely overshadowed by her 
emotions. Her hatred and revenge feelings were directed 
against her mother's narcissistic wishes, and she renounced her 
own gratification in preference to fulfilling her mother's fantasy. 
She wanted to be grown up, belong to a gang, and feel free and 
to her, freedom meant everything that implied a protest against 
her mother. In other words, Dorothy selected from her 
puberty wishes only those that she could use in her struggle 
against her mother. Her behavior was certainly also a reaction 
to that of her mother, who wavered between a strong feeling 
of guilt because she had exposed her child to sexual dangers by 
trying to make her fulfil her own maternal fantasies, and a very 
aggressive attitude of reproach toward her daughter. She con- 
centrated this reproach on Dorothy's smoking. She seemed to 
be saying all the time: " You'll never be a famous artist and a 
princess, you'll be a prostitute." 

The woman doctor who treated Dorothy believed that she 
was jealous of her brother, who was her mother's favorite child. 
The brother was virtuous and passive, and by her association 


with the gang Dorothy wanted to show that she was a sort of 
"tough guy," more masculine and more independent than he. 
Her smoking was probably connected with this. 

The freedom of night life in the present held greater fascina- 
tion for her than a possible realization of her fantasies about a 
stage career in the future. When an adolescent has the possi- 
bility of gratifying an important part of his desires and emo- 
tions through immediate action, he often easily renounces future 
realization of his most powerful wishes. This was the case with 
Dorothy. Her emotional life was absorbed in aggressive 
tendencies in relation to her mother, to which she gave free rein, 
and her ambitious fantasies about the future gradually became 
paler and lost their importance. 

We were justified in our concern for Dorothy, for it was obvi- 
ous that she was undertaking certain concrete actions in order 
to torment her mother. She knew that her mother was afraid 
of sexual risks and that she felt guilty for having thrust her 
child into a dangerous milieu. Dorothy deliberately came 
home late at night, told her mother about the sexual affairs of 
the members of the gang, and took pleasure in her despair. We 
were afraid that in a manner typical of puberty Dorothy under- 
estimated the dangers threatening her and had too much confi- 
dence in her ability to control the situation. Her wish to 
identify herself with a new environment could easily lead her 
into actually assimilating her behavior to that of the gang; her 
hatred for her mother might induce her to more outspoken and 
more dangerous actions, and her vengeance might take a form 
that would intensify her mother's sense of guilt. 

So far Dorothy had resorted to a definite defense mechanism 
in face of the threatening dangers: she had intensified her nar- 
cissistic self-assurance by a kind of aloofness and tried to 
understand intellectually the sexual happenings that probably 
alarmed her in her new surroundings. For this reason, Dorothy 
presented an interesting theoretic problem. We knew that this 
rather intelligent girl, who, however, had previously displayed 
no intellectual interests, had now suddenly begun to read 


serious books and shown an interest in sexual problems, perver- 
sions, etc. She believed that she did not need to share her 
mother's fears about the abnormalities of her friends; her own 
objective attitude was supposed to protect her from the danger 
of participating emotionally in these abnormalities. Was this 
what Anna Freud 4 calls a process of "intellectualization," that 
is to say, did Dorothy's intellectual interests serve directly to 
check her instincts, did she become learned and scientific be- 
cause she was afraid of her own sexual impulses? It is possible 
that a deeper analysis of her psychologic life would lead us to 
adopt this interpretation, but the impressions gained during 
our interviews do not support it. We felt that Dorothy's 
emotional life had become rather empty as a result of her 
devaluation of her girlish narcissistic fantasies and of her disap- 
pointment in her feminine ideal and the object of her first erotic 
experience. She tried to fill her life with something that would 
secure her superiority at home (particularly in competition 
with her brother), win her the respect of her gang, and, last but 
not least, protect her against the real dangers inherent in the 
perversions and dark doings of the gang. Through her scien- 
tific inquiries she could also gratify her curiosity without run- 
ning the risk of personal experience. For these reasons, 
though, we interpret Dorothy's case as one of "objectivization" 
or "intellectualization," and though the mechanism involved 
here was a defense mechanism, we believe that it was directed 
not against instinctual dangers, but against the real situation. 

The dramatic character of present day social and political 
events naturally affects the young girl's fantasy life, and there 
is no doubt that the war we are living through influences the 
content of her fantasies and strengthens her urge to realize them 
in action. However, at this point in our discussion we shall 
disregard the importance of the war as a psychologic factor 
and devote our attention to the young girl's personality as it 
develops under normal conditions. The great majority of 

4 Op.cit. 


young girls still pass through a phase, of short or long duration, 
in which their need to find adequate release for their emotional 
tensions is expressed in the desire to become an actress (particu- 
larly a tragic actress), a newspaperwoman, a detective, or a 

At the age of 16, Andrea, the heroine of the story previously 
mentioned (p. 32), dreamt that she would be a great poetess. 
In a manner typical of earlier puberty, she took her tuture 
plans very realistically. She thought that in order to become 
a writer she should, like Balzac, work at night while drinking 
enormous quantities of black coffee. But as she could not 
obtain coffee, she tried to substitute water and chocolate. She 
also planned to wander all night in the woods, because a poet 
must experience a great deal. "In four years, without anyone 
having the slightest inkling of it, a thick, thick book written by 
me will be published: 'Dirges by One Departed/ . . . The 
whole kingdom of Denmark will read it, all the poets, and 
father and mother too." 

This search tor experiences, whether because the girl is not 
yet capable of having them in reality or because her real ones 
seem too insignificant to her, is particularly typical of puberty. 
Because of her sense of her own weakness, which is not suffi- 
ciently compensated by her narcissistic good opinion of herself, 
and because of her wish to be strong, mature, important, and a 
"tree human being," the young girl, just like the boy, must 
constantly struggle tor the new position of "being grown up." 
She must prove herself better and more important than her 
parents and her brothers and sisters; she must accuse others of 
repressing her, in order thus to project her own psychologic in- 
hibitions and her perception of her own psychologic limitations 
in the outside world, and to blame others for what she lacks. 

Uncertain of her way, the young girl falls into a conflict 
between her individualistic feeling that she has duties toward 
herself and her feeling that she has duties toward her family; 
to this are added conflicts between various sublimations that 
express themselves in irresolution: "What shall I be?" This 


means: "With whom shall I identify myself? Shall it be father, 
mother, some other ideal figure? Shall I be nfemme fatale or a 
career woman, an artist, scientist, or a mother of many children, 
an ascetic or a believer in free love?" 

The individualism and rebelliousness that are strongly ac- 
cented in adolescence come into conflict with all the old au- 
thorities and influences. The girl's fear of her self-exaggerated 
responsibility and of her own conflicts, her sense of guilt in 
relation to her family, to which she is still so strongly attached, 
and above all the difficulties she experiences in trying to har- 
monize her intensified ideal aspiration with her intensified 
sexuality, often make such great demands upon her that she 
easily falls into a state of spiritual and physical exhaustion. 
Her overweening self-confidence expresses among other things 
her perception of the psychic expenditure required to solve her 
numerous conflicts, especially the conflict arising from her 
renunciation of sexual gratification. 

As the old authorities are devaluated, the girl's own con- 
science, the superego, is strongly heightened. The demands 
made by conscience in young people of either sex are often 
greater and harder to fulfil than those made by the people 
around them. Thus, we often see in the young girl a sense of 
responsibility and a trustworthiness that seem inconsistent 
with the strange confusions of adolescence. The girl's youthful 
ego often collapses under the weight of the demands of her 
superego, particularly when the onslaught of the sexual needs 
threatens to triumph over these latter. If these "ideal de- 
mands" are accompanied by guilt feelings arising from old or 
new sources, neurotic disturbances easily arise, manifesting 
themselves in the most varied symptoms, particularly in 
characterologic difficulties. 

Gradually love fantasies crowd out narcissistic self-satisfac- 
tion, and tensions develop that give new features to the 
psychologic picture of adolescence. An ambitious young girl, 
for instance, suddenly feels disturbed in her studies or work by 
her recurrent infatuations and writes a magic word in large 


letters over her bed, which serves to remind her every day not 
to tall in love any more. The magic word does not suffice for 
very long, the girl's self-assured behavior begins to waver, and 
her ambitious plans are threatened by her inability to concen- 
trate on her work. Her harmonious relation with the milieu 
that has accepted her as a grownup (college, office, or factory) 
is disturbed. 

The young girl's restlessness, her irritability, her conflicts 
with herself and her milieu, assume the form: "I am misunder- 
stood, my individuality is threatened, my wings are being 
clipped, I must have the right to live my own life. . . ." Even 
the most tolerant milieu is unable to meet her demands or 
understand them. For the young girl herself does not know 
what they are, and her feeling that she is misunderstood really 
expresses her own obscure awareness that she does not under- 
stand herself. The "misunderstood woman," who so often is 
more ridiculous than tragic, is one who has not yet outgrown 
this adolescent feeling or who has fallen back into it. The 
comical element in her behavior is the fact that it is anachronis- 
tic. In reality she deserves to be pitied; she has remained 
suspended somewhere in her emotional development and is 
only half aware of her lack of emotional freedom of movement. 

When the narcissistic attitude begins to develop negative 
symptoms, the vacuum between the two object worlds expresses 
itself in a different form. The adolescent girl realizes that 
she is unequal to her own high demands; her solitude becomes 
a desert; depressive moods result. Thus Maria Bashkirtseff 
wrote amidst her self-glorification: "Shall I ever find a dog on 
the streets, famished and beaten by boys ... a poor devil of 
any kind, sufficiently crushed, sufficiently miserable, suffi- 
ciently sorrowful, sufficiently humiliated, sufficiently depressed, 
to be compared with me?" And she consoles herself in a man- 
ner typical of young girls: "I love to weep, I love to give myself 
up to despair, I love to be troubled and sorrowful. I regard 
these feelings as so many diversions and while I ask tor happi- 
ness, I find myself happy in being miserable." 


But such narcissistic gratification through suffering usually 
yields to moods of depression connected with feelings of inferi- 
ority, and may crystallize in a real depression that can lead 
further to a severe adolescence neurosis. 

In many girls the depressed mood is overcome by a sudden 
flare-up of ecstatic feelings and yields to a mood of elation. 
In such cases we are often inclined to speak of a manic-depres- 
sive state or of hysterical emotional fluctuations. Only sub- 
sequent developments can show whether pathologic phenomena 
are involved in such cases or merely intensified difficulties of 

This emotional solitude may lead to various other more or 
less typical mental states. Many individuals experience not 
only depression but feelings of estrangement, depersonalization, 
unreality, etc. 

We have attempted to sketch the state that represents the 
emotional crisis of the period of life "between two worlds." 
Besides the characteristic contrast between the poverty of real 
love objects and the subjective intensity of all experiences, we 
find still another element that contributes to the morbidity of 
this period: adolescent "vulnerability," to which we have called 
attention in discussing our clinical case histories. We have 
seen how Evelyn ran away from home during puberty and was 
compelled to return again and again, driven by her longing. 
Obviously her liberation from the ties of the past was only 
partial as is most often the case. We do not know enough 
about her fully to understand the forces that repeatedly drove 
her to run away. But we do know that her experiences with 
her old objects had an unusually traumatic effect, because they 
took place in the period of puberty with its intensified vul- 

The repetition, during adolescence, of a life situation that had 
a traumatic effect during childhood an effect later more or 
less conquered can provoke a new traumatic reaction leading 
this time to neurotic illness. 

In the case of Nancy we could clearly see her strong reaction 


when she re-experienced a childhood situation in her relation 
with her sister. Nancy reacted to her sister's pregnancy with 
a grave neurosis; later we learned from her that this reaction 
had been predetermined by the events of her early childhood. 
If we knew more about Evelyn we should probably find con- 
firmation of our inference that she found her mother's preg- 
nancy so difficult to endure because it occurred at a time when 
she was in a state of intensified psychologic tension. We have 
reliable indications that she wanted to take the baby under her 
own tutelage, and we presume that what really took place was 
the mobilization of a fantasy about having a child herself. 
Perhaps Evelyn, whose behavior was so completely different 
from Nancy's, had nevertheless fallen into the same predica- 
ment as the latter. Unfortunately, we know too little of her 
childhood history to decide whether she, like Nancy, had 
brought a definite predisposition with her into adolescence, as a 
result of which she reacted badly to subsequent events, or 
whether her neurotic reaction must be ascribed only to the 
vulnerability characteristic of the phase through which she was 
passing. We know many young girls who under the pressure 
of biologic development, and because of the confusions of the 
maturation process, are prone to react traumatically to real 
events, even when such predisposing factors are absent. 

Thus, for instance, a disappointment in the object on which 
the girl's own ideal was originally molded can go beyond the 
normal limits of the devaluation process and lead to disintegra- 
tion of the ego ideal (we recall the case of Helen, who fell into 
this dangerous situation). Or, the sudden loss of a love object 
from which the girl has not yet been completely detached can 
lead to the crippling of all her subsequent affective life. We 
did not see all this clearly in the case of Evelyn, but we know 
that she was forced to flee from her home ties, and from her 
aggressive disappointment reactions and strong feelings of 
guilt. When puberty with its increased demands came upon 
her, she could no longer endure her solitude and abandonment 
at home and was compelled to seek gratifications in the outside 


world. In her self-confidence, which was probably fatal for 
her and which we have just described as typical of puberty, she 
was sure that she would be able to take responsibility for herself 
in the outside world better than at home. 

Many things in the confused picture of adolescence become 
clearer if we recognize the clash of two worlds in all the happen- 
ings of this period. Of these two worlds one belongs to the 
tuture, that is, adulthood, the other to the past, that is, child- 
hood; the present is a time of struggle to bring these two life 
periods into harmony with each other. This conception gives 
us a better insight into the workings of the progressive and re- 
gressive forces. Where the formation of the ego is involved, 
the narcissism described above is a progressive trait, for it 
signifies a stage in the individual's liberation from former 
objects and the strengthening of his self-confidence; in so far as 
the libido development is in question, this narcissism is, on the 
contrary, obstructive and regressive. The stronger demands of 
the adolescent's own conscience, functioning as inner guardian, 
are a progressive tactor; the inclusion of old feelings of guilt 
is a regressive factor. Thus every step, every gesture, draws 
its substance from two opposite factors, and the favorable or 
unfavorable outcome of adolescence depends on whether the 
progressive or the regressive forces are victorious. 

The task of adolescence is above all to develop from the 
phase of intensified narcissism to that of object relations and to 
achieve in these a favorable unification of the affections and 
instinctual drives. Paradoxically, the impact of childhood 
experiences, the tenacity of old ideals in brief, the regressive 
traits of psychologic development appear with particular 
distinctness during this period of enormous progress. 

The fact that, shortly before the new objects are found, the 
rising instinctual drives turn for a time to the old objects, 
creates a characteristic difficulty of adolescence. Affective 
struggles take place between an intense desire to "get away" 
and an equally intense urge to "go back," and this backward 
movement, which is now endowed with sexual force, actually 


arises from the re-establishment of an old situation that existed 
before the beginning of the latency period. For this reason 
adolescence has been called a new edition of the Oedipus com- 
plex, and its task has been defined as the sloughing off of this 
complex. In my analysis of prepuberty and early puberty, I 
attempted to show that these two phases, in their torward drive, 
are clearly repetitions of previous developments. Thus the 
task of adolescence is not only to master the Oedipus complex, 
but also to continue the work begun during prepuberty and 
early puberty, that is, to give adult forms to the old, much 
deeper, and much more primitive ties with the mother, and to 
end all bisexual wavering in favor of a definite heterosexual 
orientation. There is no doubt that the biologic processes 
make a decisive contribution to the latter achievement. 

It is difficult to find one's way in these complicated develop- 
ments, because the same manifestation may express various 
and often contradictory tendencies. Thus, for instance, a 
girl's identification with her mother may signify that she is 
assuming a woman's role, or it may imply all the difficulties of 
the Oedipus complex and thus stand in the way of the realiza- 
tion of her feminine wishes. Her perseverance in this identifi- 
cation may also express her inability to develop her own 
personality. Another result of it may be that the girl clings 
to her infantile dependence on her mother, that she avoids 
every conflict with her, and thus leads a shadowy existence at 
her side. In such a case, instead of reaching a feeling of emanci- 
pation and love, the girl has a spiteful and unsuccessful impulse 
to detach herself from her mother, and this may result in an 
emotionally crippled personality. If the girl does not succeed 
in solving the problem of adolescence, she remains, during this 
period and likewise later as a maturing or mature woman, the 
child she was during prepuberty, continually aggressive and 
nervously struggling against this tie with her mother, develop- 
ing various symptoms in connection with her conflict, and 
persisting in a completely passive dependence. As mentioned 
before, a number of conversion symptoms, particularly lack of 


appetite and similar disturbances, all kinds of phobias and 
paranoic ideas (fear of poisoning), 5 are connected with such an 
inability to dissolve the old attachment to the mother. 

Adolescent narcissism also assumes a definite form if such a 
dependence persists, and this may continue in later life. Every 
gesture, every inner and outer experience, is put before the 
mother and subjected to her favorable or unfavorable criticism. 
In some cases this dependence remains fixed on the mother, 
more often it is transferred to others. The happiness or un- 
happiness of a person with such an attachment depends 
absolutely on the judgment of others, and she expends a great 
deal of energy in finding out the reactions of those around her 
to everything she does. 

We shall begin our survey of the sexual processes with the 
following question: What requirement must the adolescent 
tulfil in order to cope adequately with the biologic factors? 
The answer is clear: the boy must become a man, the girl a 
woman The path to be followed by the boy is traced in 
advance by the functional readiness of his organ; his progressive 
goal is clearly and unequivocally before him, and the only 
difficulties he has to solve are the dissolution of old object 
ties, the discovery of new ones, and the mastering of passive 
tendencies. The fear that plagues him is: "Am I a man?" 
and the achievement of a positive answer to this question 
depends exclusively on the strength of his progressive forces 
in their struggle against the regressive ones. The clash be- 
tween the two manifests itself in masturbation, which is the 
sexual activity of the adolescent boy. Normally his progres- 
sive tendencies are expressed in his conscious fantasies, the 
regressive tendencies in his unconscious fantasies. 

We have seen that the female sex organ remains for a long 
time excluded from direct participation in the girl's sexual 
lite. It is unbelievable how many even very modern girls still 

6 BRUNSWICK, R. M.: The analysis of a case of paranoia. J. Nerv. & Ment. Dis. 
70: i, 151, 1929. 


imagine during adolescence that the apertures of their bodies 
serve only "dirty" purposes and have nothing to do with love. 
Only psychoanalysts ever learn that progressive girls who 
sometimes participate in the struggle for woman's political 
emancipation, and give lectures on the need for the sexual 
enlightenment of children, still cling in their unconscious 
to the theories of early childhood, deny anatomic differences, 
retain the anal idea of childbirth, and base their ideas of sex 
on the sadistic conception of coitus. The girl has a twofold 
attitude toward her genitals. This on the one hand expresses 
the educational influence of her mother, who has advised her 
to protect a very valuable treasure that must be kept pure 
and intact until the fateful "sacrifice" to the husband (thus, 
in dreams, the female genitals often appear symbolically as a 
hidden treasure, a jewel that must be guarded). On the other 
hand, the infantile conception that the genitals are a dirty 
cloaca, of which one must be ashamed, still persists in the 
unconscious. With regard to this latter valuation, the pubes- 
cent girl is in sharp contrast to the normal boy, for whom the 
genitals have the highest value and whose anxieties center 
around keeping them intact. 

Other differences between the sexual development of the girl 
and that of the boy attain their full expression during adoles- 
cence. It is true that sometimes both are unconscious of 
sexuality in their yearning for love and their hunger for ful- 
fillment. Even in the period of heterosexual longings, infatua- 
tion with persons of the other sex for some time follows a path 
seemingly independent of the first organic signs of genital 
excitation. It is difficult to decide whether this split results 
from a recent repression or whether it constitutes a survival 
of psychologic states characteristic of the latency period, 
during which love was to a great extent free from sexual im- 

In young girls eroticism remains separated from awareness 
of sexuality for a longer time than in boys. This fact can be 


explained for the most part on the basis of anatomic differences. 
The erotic fantasies of boys are soon accompanied by obvious 
genital processes; they are, so to speak, discredited by these. 
Because of the temporal coincidence of the yearning for ideal 
love and the genital urge, it is difficult for the boy to deny 
the connection between the two. 

Girls, however, do not so easily discover that their genitals 
are the executive agents of their yearning for love, and even 
if they have had orgastic emotions and have performed mastur- 
batory acts, they still find it easier to keep their psychologic 
feelings and somatic tensions apart than do boys. Above all, 
masturbation can assume much more indirect and concealed 
torms in girls than in boys. The vaginal sensations cannot 
be compared with the pressure of the male organ, the tension 
cannot always be exactly localized, excitation and relaxation 
can take place without conscious control on the part of the girl. 
The statements of many young girls and women that they have 
never masturbated rest on a basis of relative truth, because it 
may very well happen that the entire masturbatory discharge 
takes place without any direct conscious participation. Thus, 
it is easy for the girl to undertake unconscious diverting actions 
based on the fact that the direct excitation in the genital region 
is easily repressed and manifests itself in sensations in other 
parts of the body. Such sensations as heart pounding, pressure 
in the stomach, a feeling of burning in the head, light dizziness, 
and various other manifestations are often continuations of 
and substitutes for repressed masturbation. 

The turning of the sexual forces toward heterosexual objects, 
that is to say, the mastering of the new task of puberty, does 
not proceed without conflicts and disturbances. This progres- 
sive aim must be achieved against regressive forces, and be- 
cause the young girl has no adequate outlet in external reality 
she can avoid external dangers; but another peril may arise, 
namely, that of a regressive sexualization of older emotional 
relations. The theme of prepuberty liberation from old ties 


in order to attain adulthood is now accompanied by another 
strongly urgent theme, the need to break away from the danger 
of sexual attachment to the old objects. 

The relation to the girl friend, the sexual element of which 
consisted in common "knowledge," is no longer satisfactory 
in this form. If the drive of the sexual forces is strong enough 
before heterosexuality has been stabilized into full feminine 
readiness, the girl's relation to persons of her own sex may 
receive an influx of sexual content. Her relation to the friend 
of the same age now becomes more complicated; in rare cases 
it has an overtly sexual, genital character, but usually it 
develops in a platonic but very affective fashion. The dif- 
ferentiation of the active-passive and sadistic-masochistic roles 
is usually strongly emphasized in these friendships: as we have 
seen, it had its beginning in early puberty, and during adoles- 
cence it often assumes an acute form, in which the passive- 
masochistic girl is subjected to the other. Sometimes a 
sudden more or less rationalized break of the friendship takes 
place, and this can be accompanied by an apparently unmoti- 
vated severe depression. Fear of the homosexual component 
in the friendship has led to flight, followed by isolation and 

Very often the homosexual yearning turns toward a more 
distant object and the love assumes an extraordinarily pas- 
sionate form. It reaches an even higher degree of intensity 
than is ever achieved by heterosexual longing. Homosexuality 
in the adolescent girl very often runs a course as follows. 
After more or less passionate friendships with mates of the same 
age, after ardent worshiping of an older girl or a woman 
teacher, there comes, with the rising sexual instincts, an over- 
whelming infatuation with a maturer woman who is usually 
inaccessible and often known only casually. This infatuation 
has all the characteristics of painful and passionate love. 
This form of love in adolescence presupposes a strong per- 
sistence of the mother tie. 


Another form of such dependence upon the mother consists 
in seemingly heterosexual development. The mother is ex- 
changed for the father, but the infantile form of relation is 
repeated. This carrying over of the relation to the father 8 
rarely leads to adulthood. The path to heterosexual relations 
is now open; what makes them unsatisfactory is, according to 
Freud, the fact that the negative feelings formerly directed 
against the mother are carried over with regard to men. In 
the relations with the latter, infantile, insatiable, clinging 
elements are preserved. The hatred for men manifests itself 
among other things in resentment of the fact that the father 
could not by his strength and love save the girl from her 
dependence on her mother. In this infantile type of adolescent 
girl, the fear of sexual dangers uses a definite defense mecha- 
nism avoidance of dangers, which is the most primitive form 
of defense. Such girls stay at home with their mothers, 
renounce all deep experience, and develop more or less per- 
ceptible symptoms of agoraphobia. 

The following letter of a 1 5-year old girl to her friend is a 
clear illustration of such a flight into the infantile relation 
with the mother under the pressure of fear and sense of guilt. 

"Mother wants me to wear a long dress at the big dance party at W/s 
my first long dress. She is surprised that I don't want to. I begged her to 
let me wear my short pink dress for the last time ... I am so afraid. The long 
dress makes me feel as if Mummy were going on a long trip and I did not know 
when she would return. Isn't that silly? And sometimes she looks at me 
as though I were still a little girl. Ah, if she knew! She would tie my hands 
to the bed, and despise me . . ." 

It is obvious that the writer of this letter was afraid of 
growing up, and felt that her mother was deserting her (ex- 
pressed by the image of the mother's going on a trip). We 
presume that the girl's desperate "if she knew" relates to her 
guilt feelings aroused by masturbation. The prohibition ex- 

* FREUD, S.: New introductory lectures on psychoanalysis. New York: Norton, 


tends to everything sexual, and if staying with the mother 
does not give sufficient protection, more complicated protective 
measures are resorted to, and neurosis begins. 

As we have already pointed out, the heterosexual love of the 
young girl is still under strong pressure of regressive forces. 
Her relation with her father, which has hitherto been relatively 
free from conflict, is now one of inhibition and estrangement. 
Often this attitude is intensified to the point of repulsion 
about everything that relates to the father's body: his eating 
habits are disgusting, his cigar has a penetrating odor, the girl 
is reluctant to use the common bathroom in brief, she avoids 
her father's bodily atmosphere, which has become distasteful. 
She remains unconscious of the fact that all this represents 
a defense against temptation. 

The objects in the outside world to which the young girl 
does turn her heterosexual love are usually characterized by 
the tact that they present no danger of possible realization and 
otten assume the form described in Maria BashkirtsefFs diary. 
One may surmise that Maria's platonic love for the Duke of 

H was actually the expression of a regressive longing 

for her father. Her parents had separated when she was a 
little child. But even in persons whose family situations 
have been more favorable, such half-real loves contain a mixture 
of old feelings and new phantoms. 

The girl who rushes hungrily from object to object seems to 
display a completely different kind of amorous disposition. 
But closer investigation reveals that the two types the girl 
who for many years is constant in her love for an almost unreal 
object, and the fickle individual who frequently changes her 
objects are not the psychologic opposites that one might 
suppose them to be. Both types seek to gratify a longing for 
substitute objects that, although they really exist, havi no 
actual emotional reality. There are even girls who practice 
one of these forms of love for a while and then take up the 

Such a thrust for an object, which generally expands into 


elaborate daydreaming, may result in behavior that often 
surprises and even frightens the young girl's intimates. A 
girl formerly truthful and dependable begins to tell stories 
of a more or less fantastic character and stubbornly maintains 
that these stories are true. In boys such stories are gratifica- 
tions of ambition; in girls, their content is erotic. 

We meet girls who, although normal and well adjusted in 
all other respects, write love letters to themselves, not merely 
in order to boast about these missives to their friends, but to 
endow their fantasies with some degree of reality. Lying 
serves the double purpose of discharging tensions arising from 
the excessive demands made on one's fantasy life and of 
protecting oneself from actual realization. What essentially 
distinguishes such fantasies (pseudology) from daydreams is 
that they are communicated to others as real happenings. 
The imaginary gratifications of ambitious or erotic desires 
consummated without regard for external reality that are 
the principal content of daydreams, also supply material for 
pseudology. Just as the daydream is sometimes limited to a 
modest mitigation of some undesirable situation, while at other 
times it is a fantastic creation in utter contradiction to reality, 
so the content of pseudology varies from trite love affairs or 
petty satisfactions of vanity to complicated romantic adven- 
tures. Like the daydreamer, the pseudologist fulfils his wishes 
by inventing lies, and always places himself in the center ot 
his fantasy. 

There is, however, one essential difference between the two. 
While daydream ers are characterized by bashful secrecy broken 
only rarely to intimate friends, pseudologists importune others 
with their fantasies, which they relate as real events. In this, 
their purpose is usually to achieve the satisfaction inherent in 
the act of communication one of their motives is obviously 
the revelation of the fantasy carefully concealed by day- 

Daydreamers, further, are inclined to regard their fantasies as 
true, and this is part of their pleasure. But the pseudologists' 


longing tor reality seems to be much more intense intense 
enough tor them to represent products of their imagination as 
truth even to other people. 

The tollowing case is a good illustration of this point. 7 A 
girl undergoes a remarkable experience between the ages of 
13 and 17. She is an attractive girl, intelligent and of ardent 
temperament. She does not lack opportunities for amorous 
relations, but always avoids them with the greatest reserve. 
A high-school boy of about 17, rather unattractive, whom she 
knows only by sight, becomes the hero of her erotic fantasies. 
These have an extremely passionate character consuming 
kisses, ardent embraces, sexual ecstasies, the young girl's 
imagination creating everything that reality can give to a 
sexually mature woman. She becomes so absorbed in this 
fantasy that in her seclusion she leads a life full of joys and 
sorrows: her eyes are often swollen with tears because her lover 
turns out to be tyrannical, covers her with abuse, and even 
beats her; then, overflowing with love, he brings her flowers 
that actually she buys herself. She manages to get a picture 
of him and on it she writes a loving dedication in her own hand, 
distorted for the purpose. She has dates with him in forbidden 
places, they become secretly engaged, etc. For three years 
she keeps a detailed diary about all these imaginary experiences; 
when her lover goes away she continues her relations with him 
by writing him letters that she never mails, and to which she 
replies herself. 

What interests us in this case is the fact that she tells every- 
one about these mysterious relations, representing them as real, 
so that she exposes herself to unpleasantness and punishment; 
when reprimanded, she always admits contritely not that she 
is lying, but that she is still involved in the forbidden relation- 
ship. Her descriptions are so convincing that no one doubts 
the truth of them, even though the innocent boy has denied 
having any relations with her. 

As we have said, this girl had every opportunity to experience 

1 DEUTSCH, H.: Ober die pathologische Luge (pseudologia phantastica). Internat. 
Ztschr. f. Psychoanal., vol. 8, 1922. 


in reality what she invented pseudologically. But she had 
several motives for preferring the latter course. The fact that 
her erotic life consisted in fantasies woven around a chosen 
object is, as we noted earlier, normal for a girl in the pubescent 
stage (we saw a similar example in Maria Bashkirtseff's diary). 
In her choice she was determined by her unconscious attitude 
toward her brother; this too is a regressive although normal 
determinant of erotic choice. The regressive nature of adoles- 
cent fantasies is manifested in the fact that as a rule the real 
objects that are chosen strongly resemble earlier objects that 
is to say, father or brother. Under the impact of puberty 
our pseudologic girl tries to center her longing on a real object, 
but succeeds only partially. She chooses one object after the 
model of her brother, but she is incapable of a real love relation. 
The kind of relation she wants must be imaginary, not real. 
The girl strictly avoided every opportunity to become ac- 
quainted with the hero of her fantasies. She preferred the 
fantasy; in it her brother, to whom she was unconsciously 
faithful, and her real object could merge. In her childhood 
she had had various real experiences with her brother that 
were preserved in her unconscious and that at a given moment 
were revived with all the force of a fresh experience. The old 
experience was attributed to the new object, and former reality 
endowed the present love fantasy with a real character. 

This resurrection of snatches of remembered real events 
distinguishes pseudology from more normal puberty fantasies. 
Fenichel 7 * rightly notes that pseudology is a special method of 
negating reality. During puberty every reality that might 
gratify sexual wishes may appear dangerous, and a regression 
to fantasy or pseudology takes place. Pseudology is used as 
a defense; the adolescent girl takes her fantasy for reality in 
order to renounce a reality that she regards as perhaps more 

Another form of escape from a present that is unsatisfactory 
or conceals dangers is the postponement of realization. Young 

7 FBNICHBL, O.: Zur Oekonomie dcr Pseudologia phantastica. Internat. Ztschr. f- 
Psychoanal., vol. 24, 1938. 


girls indulge in detailed plans for the future that they think 
up alone or with appropriate collaborators. These plans vary 
from the most trite and prosaic pictures to the most fantastic 
and impossible. Many a young girl debates in her own mind 
the most insignificant fixture in the kitchen of her future home, 
before the slightest chance of marriage has presented itself. 
Others see themselves eloping under the most romantic cir- 
cumstances and build splendid castles in the air for their 
future residences. The erotic plans vary between being 
desired with burning passion and suffering poignantly for the 
sake of the imaginary lover. 

However, absorption in daydreams is also not without 
dangers, and the young girl tries to tear herself away from 
these experiences. Often she takes the same path she took 
during prepuberty to liberate herself from childhood de- 
pendency. She turns actively toward reality and under 
normal conditions succeeds in achieving a compromise. In 
this case, reality must contain a sufficient amount of pleasure 
elements, must offer sufficient gratification, and be interesting 
enough to compete with her fantasies. But this step into 
reality does not always succeed. In the first place, the outside 
world opposes the desire for sexual pleasure in adolescence 
and thrusts the girl back into her dreams. In the second 
place, the imaginary world is often so full and rich that reality 
is in comparison pale and unsatisfactory. In such cases color- 
ful fantasy is preferred to gray reality. We have also seen 
that the fear of real fulfillment, which makes fantasy appear 
a less dangerous refuge, also drives the girl away from reality. 

In many girls the orientation toward reality takes a form 
that easily creates new problems. For instance, I have met 
young girls who, because of a fear of passive sexual experiences, 
plunged into intense sexual activity. They tried to overcome 
fear by the tested method of "active intervention," but the 
experiences they themselves provoked usually weighed upon 
them just as heavily, and their fear only changed its 
content. The fear of fulfilling sexual wishes is replaced by 


guilty self-reproach for having too rashly overruled sexual 

Many modern young girls have sexual experiences before 
they are psychologically ready for them, endeavoring to skip 
the stages necessary for real psychologic preparation. They 
are ashamed of their sexual inhibitions, disown them, and 
become a prey to anxiety and depression. Sometimes this 
sexual pseudofreedom assumes a directly obsessive character. 
The young girl engages in numerous sexual relations, is de- 
serted by her lovers or deserts them again and again, regards 
her behavior as "emancipated," and fails to realize that her 
actions are those of a creature enslaved by largely uncon- 
scious urges and fantasies rather than those of a "free hu- 
man being." But the opposite course of action also involves 
dangers for the young girl. Avoidance of real experiences 
because of an exaggerated fear of them leads to an over- 
burdening of the fantasy life, to neurotic symptoms and rather 
pathologic behavior. The various forms of runaway behavior, 
not always as primitive and direct as Evelyn's, result from 
such an avoidance. With somewhat more mature girls running 
away assumes the form of taking up professions for which they 
haveno real inclination or interest, orof joining political groups, 
cults, or religious communities. The real purpose of such 
actions is not to emancipate themselves from their milieu but 
to escape from their own strongly sexualized fantasies. Such 
girls often have a tendency to eliminate love from their lives 
entirely. Even though they frequently aspire to high human- 
itarian, social, or scientific goals, they lack the spiritual rich- 
ness that comes from emotional experience. This type of girl, 
having given up all emotional life, usually indulges in narcissis- 
tic and emotionless "objectivity" for long periods: the danger 
here is that the success of this total sublimation may perma- 
nently mutilate her affective life. Such girls are threatened 
with neurotic derangement in later life. 

The essentially sound activity and the social and intellectual 
energy developed by the young girl who renounces her fantasies, 


often blight her emotional life and prevent her from achieving 
complete femininity and, later, motherhood. That women 
frequently remain entangled in infantile forms of emotional 
life while their minds and activities are extremely well de- 
veloped, is an interesting fact that still requires explanation. 
It appears that the development from fantasy life into fully 
mature femininity is a psychologic achievement that can be 
inhibited by intellectualization. 

Later we shall discuss at greater length the relation between 
the type of the ambitious and energetic young girl who achieves 
her aims by great exertions, thanks to her ability to repress 
her sexual drives, but whose emotional life is stunted in the 
process, and the so-called masculinity complex. In direct 
contrast to this type is the woman who achieves complete 
femininity in eroticism and sexuality at the price of completely 
subordinating every ambition and talent to this purpose. 
Normal growth is consistent with the harmonious coexistence 
of the two developments. 

Some adolescent girls who have been subjected from earliest 
childhood to the harmful influence of an excessively severe 
morality, or who have felt the impact of strong unconscious 
guilt feelings, react in a definite manner to the psychologic 
processes of their maturation. All the free stirrings of the 
future are in this case prematurely petrified, and the adolescent 
urge for freedom and the hunger for love are replaced by rigid 
moral principles. Every time a danger of violating these 
principles arises, the voice of the inner law makes itself heard 
as a "signal of fear." New renunciations are added to the old, 
and although freedom from guilt feelings can be achieved, 
it is only at the price of renunciation. This is the ascetic 
girl, who usually has a predisposition to obsessional neurosis; 
this predisposition was no doubt present before, but it is 
intensified through the struggles and fears of puberty. After 
the storms of adolescence the tension may relax and subse- 
quently the girl may develop more freely. If she tails to 


develop in a less inhibited way, such a girl will become an 
obsessional neurotic or a conscientious old maid. 

The opposite type manifests a childish lack of restraint 
even during adolescence; because of her lack of developed 
inhibitions, such a girl has a hard time adjusting herself to the 
restrictions of her milieu and becomes an "adolescence prob- 
lem" more frequently than the other type. But as a rule, 
given favorable environmental influences, she has much greater 
inner possibilities for further development. 

Adolescent girls, though they may be reared in the same 
cultural conditions and though they are subject to the same 
biologic processes, present great differences in their still im- 
mature but already sharply outlined personalities. One 
dynamically challenges her milieu; another passively and 
limply submits to guidance and "fate"; still another is over- 
active, unable to wait passively for the future and to invent 
fantasies about it. Some put no limit on their longings and 
must have boundless elbow room for their effervescent fantasies. 
Such exuberant fantasy life certainly increases the danger of 
morbid reactions, but it also offers more opportunities for 
development of femininity and makes for greater richness 
in the whole personality. Another type has rigidly defined 
objectives, determined wishes and apprehensions. This girl 
is mature and formed at an early age; her fate follows a pre- 
determined direction that she cannot change. She will at first 
outstrip the youthfully effervescent, unbalanced, undepend- 
able girl of the same age, but will have fewer possibilities of 
further development. 

No matter how much they differ in characteristics, all these 
young girls consider their lives in the present provisional and 
are beset by inner conflicts until a path of fulfillment opens 
before them. Young people of both sexes are tormented by a 
feeling of insecurity, uncertainty, and inner restlessness 
throughout adolescence. The straight line of development 
and the effort of the ego to adjust itself and master reality are 


over and over again interrupted by the rising tides of sexuality. 
During this phase of life, the anatomic difference between the 
sexes assumes greater importance than it had before. The 
organic contrast between the extroverted activity of the boy's 
sexual apparatus and the veiled, less consciously perceived, 
and less urgent activity of the girl's is reproduced in the life 
of the psyche. 

During this entire period young people show a tendency 
to turn away from reality and indulge in fantasies. But it 
seems that the boy's more active sexuality leads to a stronger 
turn toward reality and toward conquering the outside world 
than is the case with the young girl. Hence an important 
psychologic difference between the sexes: man's attention is 
principally directed outward, and woman's inward. That 
typical trait of adolescence that we discussed before keen 
observation of one's own psychologic processes is as a rule 
more intense in the girl than in the boy. Preoccupation with 
her own mind continues in the woman's later life and deter- 
mines two important and distinctive feminine characteristics, 
namely, woman's greater intuition and greater subjectivity in 
assimilating and appreciating the life processes. The corner- 
stones of these fundamental feminine characteristics are laid 
during adolescence. 

Another important difference between the sexes with regard 
to the relative completion of adolescence lies in their tendencies 
to identification. The tendency itself is not peculiar only to 
girls during adolescence. Naturally there are differences 
between boys and girls as regards the objects of their identifica- 
tions, their purpose, etc., but the process itself stems from 
the same needs of the weak ego and serves the same general 
end in both sexes. 

The young man emerges less scathed than the girl from the 
phase of intensified identifications; in the formation of his 
personality he has assimilated them more successfully. True, 
only a few boys develop personalities so powerful and independ- 
ent that they can completely renounce identifications with 


others. But the feminine ego seems to remain longer to 
some degree it remains throughout life in that phase of 
adolescence in which the tendency toward identification is 
strengthened. The question whether this is explained by 
definite dispositional elements in woman or by the boy's more 
active turning toward reality, is not difficult to answer. The 
same dispositional factors strengthen woman's tendency to 
identification and obstruct those of her activities that are 
directed toward the outside world. These forces are also 
responsible for other characteristic feminine traits, such as 
those we have mentioned above, i.e., woman's greater intuition 
and subjectivity. The common denominator of all these 
qualities is woman's greater deep-rooted passivity with regard 
to all life processes outside of the reproductive function. 

With regard to woman's tendency to identification, it is 
to be emphasized that this feminine quality shows great 
individual variations. Identification must not overstep cer- 
tain limits, otherwise it constitutes a danger for the ego. The 
more stable the woman's self-confidence and feeling of strength, 
the less dangerous is this tendency. Once certain limits are 
crossed, the ego is endangered and the process of identification 
deprives the individual of the full possession of his own personal- 
ity. Freud 8 speaks of the "multiple personality" as resulting 
from a process in which numerous identifications lead to a dis- 
ruption of the ego. He refers to a purely inner process of ego 
formation in contrast to a type I have described, in which 
the ego constantly identifies itself with objects in the outer 
world instead of forming emotional relationships with them. 9 
The psychologic process of identification will in one case have 
a pathologic outcome that may be more or less severe and in 
another a more normal resolution. Women give us a better 
opportunity than men to observe a large gamut of various 
kinds of identifications that take place within normal limits. 

The tendency displayed by many women to renounce their 

8 FREUD, S.: The ego and the id. London: Hogarth, 1927. 

DF.UTSCH, H.: Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to 
schizophrenia. PsychoanaJyt. Quart., vol. n, 1942. 


own judgment and adopt by identification the opinions of their 
love objects is very typical. Women are also frequently 
enthusiastic partisans of ideas that apparently have been given 
them by others. But closer observation reveals that such 
ideas were previously conceived and developed in their own 
fantasy. The adoption or carrying out of these ideas is possible 
only through identification with other people. Even talented 
women are often uncertain of the value of their own ideas 
until they receive them from someone else whom they respect. 
This remarkable combination of projection and identification 
is doubtless connected with woman's generally passive attitude. 
The feeling of insecurity in creative activity corresponds to the 
deep-rooted need of woman to be fecundated from outside in 
order to be 'creative. 

The tendency to identification sometimes assu.aes very 
valuable forms. Thus, many women put their qualities, 
which may be excellent, at the disposal of the object of their 
identification and content themselves with thinking: "What 
a magnificent man I am in love with." They prefer to love 
and enjoy their own qualities in others. Vice versa, ambitious 
women who, because they are not active or not talented 
enough, have not found any direct gratification for their 
ambition, try to compensate themselves through identifica- 
tion with their men. They strive with the greatest energy 
to win recognition for their husbands, are full of aggressive 
hostility to those who do not share their admiration, and behave 
as though their overestimation were an expression of their 
love. At bottom they often do not believe in the value of 
the men they admire with such enthusiasm not out of love, 
but in order to gratify their own ambitions projected in them. 

There are women endowed with rich natural gifts that can- 
not, however, develop beyond certain limits. Such women 
are exposed to outside influences and changing identifications 
to such an extent that they never succeed in consolidating 
their achievements. Instead of making a reasonable choice 
among numerous opportunities at their disposal, they con- 


stantly get involved in confusion that exerts a destructive in- 
fluence on their own lives and the lives of those around them. 

It might be supposed that this facility in identification with 
others favorably influences the capacity for adjustment. 
However, in women, these two processes do not always coin- 
cide; on the contrary, there have been most interesting ob- 
servations suggesting that the opposite is true. The woman 
who comes close to the type of multiple personality described 
by Freud is capable of completely renouncing her own personal- 
ity as she absorbs the man's interests and assimilates herself 
entirely to him. The intellectual interests, hobbies, and 
talents, even the handwriting and posture of the man, are 
acquired. Such women make use of the absorbed traits as 
though they were their own and often turn them as weapons 
against the men from whom they have taken them. Some- 
thing that begins as amiable imitation can gradually assume a 
hostile character in the form of "I don't need you, I am like 
you!" A woman largely identified with a man may at the 
same time destructively oppose him and try to retain her 
rights and ways in all matters of life. 

In contrast with this, we often observe that the more com- 
pletely a woman preserves her own personality, the more easily 
does she adjust herself to a man. In such cases it is as though 
the facade were made of a pliable material that adapts itself 
perfectly to reality, while the material behind it is as hard and 
inflexible as marble. This type of adjustment, which we some- 
times encounter in women of character, also distinguishes 
certain races and nations. These adjust themselves with 
striking facility to a new environment, yet they seem to possess 
solid, deep-rooted qualities that are almost inaccessible to 
outside influences, and they thus stubbornly resist complete 
assimilation. There is perhaps a close connection between 
these two qualities the capacity for adjustment and the 
preservation of a firm, immalleable kernel. 

The facility with which woman identifies often exposes her to 
accusations (sometimes justified) of falseness (deceittulness 


of women). A certain type of clever woman has a knack of 
sensing which side of herself she should show to a man in order 
to make him feel big. Many women owe their success in 
important fields to this kind of capacity for adjustment. 
What they tell one man they withhold from another; with 
one they make themselves small and insignificant, with another 
they stand on their toes to show him that they can reach up 
to his level. They do all this because of their more or less 
conscious tendency to give the other person narcissistic grati- 
fication in such a way that he feels himself to be wonderful 
and at the same time admires his flattering admirer. These 
women usually do not strive for love but use the sympathy 
they arouse in others for their own ambitious purposes. They 
are particularly dangerous when they compete with other 
women often more gifted than themselves, who, because they 
openly pursue their ambitious aims, are feared and rejected by 
men. We shall return to this latter type of woman. At this 
point we wish to emphasize the fact that woman's peculiar facil- 
ity for identification reveals a whole gamut of possibilities. It is 
an innate feminine quality that, born of weakness and passiv- 
ity, can serve varied and often opposite purposes. It makes a 
great difference whether identification serves the purpose of 
love or hate, whether it stems from the cold source of a 
masculinity (desire to be "like him") or from the warm source 
of femininity (desire to "understand him" by feeling "like 

We spoke above of a phase of adolescence during which boys 
and girls display a particularly keen understanding of their 
own psychologic states. We explained this by the narcis- 
sistically intensified self-observation and heightened interest 
in the processes of their own psychic life that are characteristic 
of this period. In my psychoanalytic practice I have en- 
countered a type of patient who by his pathologic intensifica- 
tion of this behavior was able to throw much light upon it. 
Distinguished by extraordinary intuition about their own psy- 


chologic processes and by the ability to observe and under- 
stand them, persons of this type turn all their activity upon 
their own psychologic life, while they are strikingly passive 
in their attitude toward the world around them. They are 
as well adjusted to reality as can be, but they quite passively 
let themselves be dominated by people and things. Analysis 
shows that their inner perception amounts to a more intensive 
self-observation for the purpose of defense against inner dangers. 
We are thus confronted with a defensive process in which the 
individual behaves like someone anxiously listening in the 
dark and perceiving every noise with special acuteness. One 
patient of this type declared that he observed himself so at- 
tentively in order not to go insane, thus clearly defining his 
inner perception as a defense mechanism. It was also ascer- 
tainable that in these patients the repressed anxiety increased 
in intensity as soon the defensive self-observation failed. In 
one case the anxiety grew constantly stronger during the 
treatment, until finally the patient began to develop paranoic 
ideas. It was thus possible to observe statu nascendi the 
transformation of the inner perception into a projection in 
which the inner observer became the persecutor in the outside 

Our experience with these patients brought us closer to an 
understanding of that "inner perception" that women possess 
in a greater degree than men. To understand it is all the more 
important because the most striking feminine characteristic, 
intuition, can be derived from it, 

Let us once again recall the final phase of adolescence, during 
which the young boy strongly and actively turns toward reality, 
while the girl perseveres for a longer time and to a greater degree 
in her tantasy life. An excessive preoccupation with one's 
fantasy life involves dangers for the ego and requires a height- 
ened inner alertness, a more acute "listening in the dark," The 
faculty of self-observation developed during adolescence is at 
the woman's disposal for fighting this psychologic danger. At 
first this faculty functions as a defense mechanism, and if the 


adolescent's development toward womanhood follows a favor- 
able course, it crystallizes into a positive characterologic 
quality. If this self-observation does not play the part of a 
rigid governess during adolescence and drive the young girl into 
flight from fear of her own fantasy life, the combination of rich 
fantasy and emotional life, of subjectivity and inner perception, 
gives rise to intuition , an important component of what Goethe 
called the "eternal feminine." A part of adolescent narcissism 
is included in this formation, and when it does not evolve into 
egoistic self-love it endows the woman with that winning qual- 
ity, that charm that seems to say: "Love me, for I too have 
something to give." 

Woman's understanding of other people's minds, her intui- 
tion, is the result of an unconscious process through which the 
subjective experience of another person is made one's own by 
association and thus is immediately understood. The other 
person's subjective experience manifests itself in an external 
happening that is sometimes barely perceptible, but that in an 
intuitive person evokes by quick association a definite inner 
state; the conscious perception rapidly tames the inner reaction, 
incorporates the impression received into a harmonious series 
of ideas, masters the "inspirational" element, and translates it 
into the sober form of conscious knowledge. Since the whole 
process is very rapid, its second phase, that is, the intellectual 
elaboration, is barely perceived everything seem to take place 
in the unconscious and affective element, because the conscious 
ingredient does not come to the fore. 

What we see in intuition is not a logical concatenation of im- 
pressions; on the contrary, in each intuitive experience, the 
other person's mental state is emotionally and unconsciously 
"re-experienced," that is, felt as one's own. The ability to do 
this will naturally depend on one's sympathy and love tor and 
spiritual affinity with the other person; and the extent of this 
spiritual affinity, for which the German language has the term 
Einfiihlung (sometimes translated by "empathy"), depends on 
the richness of one's own emotional experiences, which under- 


lie the "inner perception" or the ability to understand one's 
own feelings and psychologic relations and, by analogy, those of 
others. This brief definition of intuition describes an ability 
that is to a high degree characteristic of women. For the sake 
of caution let us replace the term "ability" with "potentiality," 
to indicate that women are not always, perhaps not even fre- 
quently, in position to make use of their intuition. For other 
factors too determine its functioning. All human beings de- 
velop prejudices psychoanalysis calls them resistances 
against their own inclinations and potentialities. 10 These prej- 
udices may naturally obstruct intuition and the ability to 
understand other persons. Also, the practical application of 
women's intuition often fails. They make serious errors in 
their judgment and treatment of other people even when they 
are endowed with strong intuition. After every error and 
every disappointment they discover that as a matter of fact 
they expected and knew in advance what would happen, but 
"something" prevented them from making the right use of their 
intuitive ability. It is not our aim here to discuss the possible 
deeper motives of such behavior. No doubt, self-injurious 
masochistic tendencies are often involved in these cases, and 
they create unfavorable conditions for the practical use of the 
intuition. Nor is intuition always a sufficient means for 
mastering the outside world; more objective methods of rational 
critique are often needed in order to use this faculty effectively 
However, the type of woman under discussion here is usually 
restricted in the use of her intuition by other motives. These 
women have mistakingly and unfortunately transferred their 
self-valuation to another field. They refuse to admit their 
feminine qualities, which are of the subjective and emotional 
order, and instead of drawing an advantage from these positive 
feminine qualities, strive for more "objectivity" and "unemo- 
tionalness," that is, for qualities less inherent in their natures. 
A young woman with whom I had the opportunity of discussing 

I DEUTSCH, H.: A discussion of certain forms of resistance. Internat. J. Psycho- 
Analysis, vol. 20, 1939. 


such difficulties in the practical application of her intuition told 
me that she always recalled with horror her mother's irrational, 
purely emotional behavior. "Are not all women like that?" 
she asked. 

We can answer this question objectively: Yes, many women 
are like that, for every human potentiality can be abused or 
used badly, just as it can be used effectively. Furthermore, 
this apparently "irrational" tendency can become a blessing, 
and flight from it leads to inner impoverishment that only pre- 
tends to be rational objectivity. The value of woman lies in the 
good management of the irrational component of her psyche. 

While ascribing a greater degree of intuition to women, we do 
not deny its existence in men. In men too the experiences of 
adolescence can have a fruitful and lasting effect. But a sensi- 
tive, intuitive man probably has a strong feminine component 
in his entire personality. This seems particularly true of 
artistically gifted men and of those whose professions require 
psychologic understanding of other people. It has rightly been 
stressed that literary works written by men often reveal deep 
psychologic understanding of the feminine soul. These men 
obviously used the sublimated forces of their own femininity 
for a successful identification with women. On the other hand, 
world literature, including modern literature, contains a large 
number of works by women that are distinguished by psycho- 
logic genius. Our personal impression, for which we naturally 
do not claim any general validity, is that women whose literary 
achievements are brilliant as long as they confine themselves to 
a field in which they can make use of their psychologic gifts, 
often prove inadequate when for political or other reasons they 
switch to intellectual fields in which the objective approach is 
paramount. When their literary talent draws from the horn 
of plenty of feminine intuition, their achievement is worth 
while; but their intellect is not on a level with their innate 
feminine intuition. 

In our effort to find the sources of specific feminine qualities 
we seem always to return to our starting point. The se- 


quence constituted by (i) greater proneness to identification, 
(2) stronger fantasy, (3) subjectivity, (4) inner perception, 
and (5) intuition, leads us back to the common origin of all 
these traits, feminine passivity. For the sake of clarity it will 
be useful to keep this passivity in mind while analyzing its 
individual components. 

One of these components is the young girl's inclination to 
tantasying. We have pointed out that the boy because of his 
anatomic and physiologic characteristics is better prepared for 
the task of mastering reality has built up a greater "reality 
potential/ 7 so to speak than the girl. Attempts are often 
made to explain the young girl's perseverance in fantasy life by 
the double sexual standard, which gives the young man better 
opportunities for sexual gratification, thus protecting him from 
being overburdened by fantasies. Observation of modern 
youth has permitted us to correct this view. Today the double 
sexual standard is being eliminated by pressure from two oppo- 
site directions: the young girl behaves with greater freedom, and 
the young man is willing to postpone his sexual gratification 
until he achieves greater capacity for love. These new devel- 
opments, however, do not seem to have much effect upon the 
sexual differences with which we are dealing here, and we are 
compelled to assume that much more elemental motives, rooted 
in biology, are responsible for them. 

The approach of the reproductive task while the possibility 
or capacity for fulfilling it is lacking, is another factor that 
intensifies the girl's tendency to fantasying. Again we are 
confronted with a developmental situation in which a progres- 
sive tendency releases regressive forces. The hypothesis that 
the motherhood fantasies of young girls, because they are 
physically mature, have a greater reality value than the child- 
hood experiences relating to them, is based on a kind of optic 
illusion. The woman approaching maturity is in exactly the 
same situation that she was in as a little girl, when she laid the 
first cornerstones for her future womanhood in her fantasy life. 
At that time she played with dolls in active identification with 


her mother. As a maturing girl she normally gives up thi 
identification and now identifies herself with herself, in the rol 
that she will play in the future. Her possibilities of realizatio. 
are still distant, she is still separated from them by her anxieties 
her wishes, and her preparations for the sexual act. Now tha 
fulfillment is nearer, it is felt as a greater danger, and th 
awakening psychologic processes connected with the reproduc 
tive function are driven into the more inward sphere of fantasy 
life, just as they were in the girl's childhood. This inclinatiot 
to fantasying, born from the inner more than from the oute 
impossibility of realization, that is to say, from passivity, ii 
turn increases the passivity of woman, in a kind of vicious circle 
The fantasies can become a prelude to action, but their gratifi 
cation takes place on a psychologic plane, and while they inten 
sify and enrich psychologic life, they weaken the impulse t< 

Thus woman acquires a tendency to passivity that intensifie 
the passive nature inherent in her biology and anatomy. Sh< 
passively awaits fecundation: her life is fully active and rootec 
in reality only when she becomes a mother. Until then every 
thing that is feminine in the woman, physiology and psychology 
is passive, receptive. This speculation, which is based on m) 
experience, can perhaps be confirmed by a more objective 
observation: no human being has as great a sense of reality a< 
a mother. It is often striking how with the achievement o 
motherhood, implying, as it does, the strongest possible turning 
to reality, the young girl who previously had developed a pro 
found intuition, loses this valuable gift and replaces it with 
other, more realistic qualities. 

The girl's strong bent toward fantasy and subjective experi 
ence, while giving birth to the positive qualities of intuition anc 
empathy, involves certain dangers. Excessive withdrawal frorr 
reality strengthens neurotic tendencies. The girl's intellectua 
development, her social adjustment, and her professional activ 
ity can naturally be disturbed by excessive fantasying. 

Fantasies, subjective experiences, and strengthening of the 


intuitive faculty appeal in the course of the girl's development. 
They are also products of a sublimation that remains subjective 
and emotional and that is typical of women; for this reason 
premature realization of vital goals does not seem to be advan- 
tageous even under favorable circumstances. All the fruits of 
psychic experience that begin to mature during adolescence 
must complete the process of maturation. Only a mother who 
has partly sublimated her motherliness during the waiting 
period will become a real mother. Observation shows that a 
too early maternity involves the danger of retarding this process 
of maturation. It is true also, however, that there is a kind of 
"late maturation in motherhood. Thus, we often see emo- 
tionally infantile women who prematurely, without being psy- 
chologically prepared for motherhood, become mothers and who 
catch up with the maturation process during pregnancy or with 
the birth of the child. War mothers provide us with ample 
opportunities to observe this. Another danger is that early 
motherhood makes such demands on the girl's incomplete 
personality that all her activity is put to the service of the 
reproductive function and her personality is crippled as a 

These passive tendencies in the girl are not contradictory to 
the frequently intense active strivings that she develops during 
adolescence. Many girls are forced by the pressure of social 
conditions to work at some occupation, but they regard such 
occupations as provisional. Even today it is striking how 
many women engaged in active professional work await the 
moment when they will be supported by their husbands, and 
bitterly reproach a husband who is unable to satisfy this de- 
mand. Many girls take up professions because it is the fashion 
to do so or because of their social convictions; most of them are 
moved by the desire to share in active life. One might think 
that this activity, particularly intensified in our generation, is 
in contradiction to what we have described as specifically femi- 
nine. But actually, absurd and paradoxic as it may sound, the 
psychic structure of woman does not consist exclusively in the 


"eternal feminine." It is true that femininity is her essential 
core, but around this core there are layers and wrappings that 
are equally genuine elements of the feminine soul and frequently 
very valuable ones, indispensable for the preservation and 
development of the core. If we follow the subsequent develop- 
ment of these elements, we find that they stem from the active, 
sometimes masculine components that, even though always 
more or less present in woman, originate in the masculine part 
of the bisexual disposition. They are continuations of elements 
present in the undifferentiated phase of childhood, identifica- 
tions with masculine prototypes, survivals of the prepuberty 
thrust of activity in brief, they are sublimations of active cur- 
rents in woman. 

Even superficial observation shows that a girl who has pre- 
viously been intelligent, brilliant, and promising, often lets all 
these personality values burst like a soap bubble during pu- 
berty, when she is overtaxed by her awakening femininity, the 
intensification of her inner world. The inverse is also true. 
We often see an intellectual girl who is ambitious, pedantically 
conscientious, and neurotically dutiful, strengthening these 
qualities in adolescence and making of them an armor to protect 
herself from the development of feminine qualities. Such a 
girl seems to me the most miserable feminine type in existence, 
for, exactly like her rustic twin sister Dulcinea, she is often an 
excellent but usually an incomplete man. She too is disturbed 
by motherhood, not by emotional but by real maternity. In 
her effort to make life perfect she achieves motherhood, and her 
particularly dutiful devotion to her children often comes into 
real conflict with her other aspirations. Such women are all 
intellect or all strength, and their subjective experience, emo- 
tional development, and intuition are completely lost. They 
will always do their work thoroughly but will never produce 
anything original stemming from the treasure of intuition, the 
source of woman's genius. 

Dulcinea types, intellectuals or sportswomen, are extraordi- 



narily frequent in colleges. Their teachers are pleased with 
them, because they are cooperative and reliable. But their 
affective lives are dry, sterile, and impoverished. Only excep- 
tionally talented girls can carry a surplus of intellect without 
injuring their affective lives, for woman's intellect, her capacity 
for objectively understanding life, thrives at the expense of her 
subjective, emotional qualities. Modern education unfortu- 
nately neglects this truth, and girls are very often intellectually 
overburdened. Sports are not an adequate substitute for deep 
affective experiences, nor do amusements and artistic enjoy- 
ment answer the need for real relaxation and communion with 

At the other extreme there is the completely passive girl. 
She does not reach the point of sublimating her fantasies. She 
fails to develop her active femininity with its passive goal, 
because her fear of what may come or of what she has already 
found lurking within her cripples her psychologically; she 
abandons herself to her fate and becomes a completely passive 
object for outside influences to work upon. This passive orien- 
tation can assume various forms. When it has a sexual 
character it leads to passive abandon without any other motive 
than that of weak-minded passivity; or it may extend to all the 
situations in the girl's life and make her a passive foil for every 
outside stimulus. Sometimes she perseveres in some sort of 
activity, but only when its goal is prescribed by others. This 
type of girl is not identical with the type mentioned above 
(p. 131). While the latter passively follows others as a result of 
her emotional emptiness, the former has many emotional poten- 
tialities but fails to develop them actively out of fear and inhibi- 
tion. She is neurotic without knowing it. She is feminine, 
but an alien disturbing element has distorted her feminine 
passivity. She has not sublimated this essential tendency of 
her nature into profound subjective experience, because she has 
abandoned herself to it too completely. Every strong emo- 
tional excitation causes such girls to have fainting fits; they are 


subject to narcoleptic states, and excessive sleeping, as a reac- 
tion to feelings of fatigue, takes up much of their lives. They 
use sleep to escape from life, not to restore their strength. 

Another difference between masculine and feminine develop- 
ment stems from the fact that during the years of greatest 
psychologic growth, that is, in adolescence, women show a defi- 
nitely stronger tendency than men to spiritualization of the 
sexual instinct. In the history of mankind the spiritualization 
of this instinct has taken various forms. Primitive religion 
raised sexuality to the status of a divine function and thus 
decreased the need for individual spiritualization. Later, 
sexuality was considered an instrument of the devil, and 
asceticism was preached in behalf of spiritualization that could 
not be undertaken directly. In individual life this spirituali- 
zation proceeds along several paths. Through fantasy activity 
that begins early in childhood, the sexual instinct is from the 
start connected with unconscious psychologic contents. The 
same process is repeated with greater intensity during puberty. 
The interval of time between the reawakening of the sexual urge 
and its direct gratification is filled with fantasy activity, and 
thus the endowment of the sexual instinct with psychologic 
content is further advanced. In the animal kingdom, sexual 
stimulation is connected with the sensory organs, above all 
with the sense of smell. (This connection is even more marked 
in the maternal instinct of animals and is responsible for the 
radical difference between "motherliness," an emotional com- 
plex in women, and "maternal instinct" in animals.) To be 
sure, in human beings the sensory organs are likewise an 
important intermediary between the sexual sphere and the 
psychic elements, but the development of fantasy life estab- 
lishes a relation between sexuality and the various spiritual 
functions, especially the emotional life. We shall see that the 
character of this relation between the instinct and the emotional 
life constitutes one of the essential sex differences between men 
and women. 


What we have observed directly in the processes of adoles- 
cence again reminds us that many psychologic phenomena may 
paradoxically exert both inhibiting and furthering influences. 
The intensification of the sexual instinct mobilizes counterforces 
that serve to resist it, 11 The same forces of resistance make 
important contributions to the development of the ego by 
simultaneously serving sublimation. They exert a lasting 
instinct-inhibiting influence that is utilized to the advantage of 
the personality as a whole, so long as it remains, quantitatively 
and qualitatively, within normal limits. If these defense 
mechanisms become rigid, steadily opposing instinctual gratifi- 
cations and other developments, they acquire the character of 
an inner resistance that manifests itself in the form of neurotic 
symptoms and pathologic personality formation. 

The girl's mechanisms of defense against the onslaught of 
sexuality are to some extent identical in character with the 
boy's. The girl with intellectual interests and a disposition to 
obsessional neurosis will strengthen her intellectuality and ten- 
dency to objectification and thus repel the threat of the rising 
sexuality. She will even use these qualities as weapons against 
the outside world when her increasing feminine charms fire 
men's lust and place her in real and immediate danger. We 
have seen that even the nonintellectual Dorothy suddenly 
began to develop an observant objective curiosity when she 
tound herself in a dangerous milieu. 

Connected with woman's greater passivity and more intense 
inner life and fantasy is the specifically feminine tendency to 
disregard the coarse sexual claims and express them in the form 
of idealized love yearning and sublimated eroticism. During 
the first stages of adolescence the tendency to idealize the sexual 
instinct is common to boys and girls. It manifests itself above 
all in the choice of the love object, the nature and significance 
of which for the young preclude any coarse sexual aspect in it. 
In men this attitude is reduced to a minimum in later life and 

11 FREUD, A.: Op. cit. 


persists only in abnormal cases. Men who cannot sexually 
desire the object they love, and vice versa, are numerous, but 
they are neurotic. The same split in erotic feelings is encoun- 
tered in girls, but, as we have seen above, rarely with regard to 
the love object. In them, this split affects themselves, that is to 
say, they either lower themselves to the status of a purely 
sexual object or raise themselves to that of an "unattainable/' 

At any rate, the girl represses the conscious realization of the 
direct instinctual claim for a much longer time and in a much 
more successtul manner than the boy. This claim manifests 
itself indirectly in her intensified love yearnings and the erotic 
orientation of her fantasies in brief, in the endowment of her 
inner life with those emotional qualities that we recognize as 
specifically feminine. In the psychologic household of women 
these qualities represent a process of sublimation and at the 
same time serve as a defense against direct sexual instinctual 
demands. A great Polish poet called passion the "poetry of the 
body/' and sensuality its "prose. " This striving to throw off 
the prosaic instinct and attain poetic richness of emotion dis- 
tinguishes the adolescence of girls from that of boys, in whom 
fantasy gradually gives way to masculine activity that is 
turned toward reality. In the boy, as opposed to the girl, at 
the end of the conflict between the instinct and the defense 
mechanism, the sexual instinct emerges largely independent of 
its sublimations. 

It must be mentioned here that these differences between the 
sexes, although basic, have a quantitative as well as a qualita- 
tive character. We have spoken of certain "masculine" 
qualities as normal components of feminine psychology. It is 
not to be concluded from these observations on the differences 
between the sexes that the normal man is an instinctual being 
well adjusted to reality and often endowed with great spirit- 
ual qualities whose sexuality, uninfluenced by the emotions, 
strives actively and without inhibitions to achieve its direct 
goal. Such men exist, but they cannot be considered represen- 
tative of the masculine sex. What we consider the essential 
feature of women the fact that their sexuality and other lite 


interests are heavily laden with emotion is also a factor in the 
development of man, and as a "feminine" component perhaps 
plays the same part in his psychology as the masculine compo- 
nent plays in woman's. But the social valuation of these 
components furthers masculinity in women and discourages 
femininity in men. Just as during puberty the epithet "sissy" 
is an insult, while "tomboy" is often an expression of praise 
(p. 85), so in later life masculine qualities in women frequently 
have a high social value, while femininity in a man makes him 
ridiculous and even despised if it manifests itself too clearly. 
The fact that many men owe their artistic gifts and some of 
their professional excellence to this component is often over- 

However, we wish here to stress the quantitative element 
without making any value judgments. We assume that all the 
forms of development of sexuality and personality are shared by 
both sexes, that the same defense mechanisms and types of subli- 
mation are at their disposal, but that one sex makes greater use 
of some of them, and the other of others. These quantitative 
differences contribute a great deal to the differentiation of the 

When discussing the goal-inhibited manifestations of the 
girl's sexual development, we maintained that they moved in 
the emotional sphere. Feminine sexuality is sublimated into 
definite emotional values to a much greater extent than mascu- 
line sexuality. Later we shall have an opportunity to return 
to the direct manifestations of feminine sexuality in adolescence. 

Let us now examine the relations between the young girl's 
sexual and reproductive functions. We reject the suggestion 
of a "negotiated peace" between these two functions if its pur- 
pose is to deprive the feminine sexual instinct of an independent 
tendency that serves only the aim of pleasure. Such peace 
proposals originate in the demands of the church, and in certain 
racial ideals and social aims, rather than in real understanding, 
based on experience, of the feminine functions. We disagree, 
however, with the other view, often expressed by psycho- 
analysts, that reproduction is only a consequence of the sexual 


act and not its ultimate aim. It is precisely in adolescence that 
the two currents can be seen juxtaposed, separate yet influenc- 
ing each other. The maternal instinct manifests itself in fan- 
tasies, fears, and symptoms that appear most markedly during 
the first menstruation. At this time its character is so infantile, 
so tull of regressive elements, so close to the old ideas of the 
little girl, that we are hardly able to treat it as a fully awakened 
urge to maternity. We shall call this group of ideas and emo- 
tions the "motherhood complex" and assign to it in this life 
period the role of a psychologic "outpost" that heralds and pre- 
pares the subsequent development of the reproductive instinct. 
Whether it owes its existence only to psychologic factors or 
whether we have here the inner perception of a hormonal proc- 
ess is difficult to decide. 

The really characteristic feature of the young girl's erotic 
longing and its unconscious content is the expectation of the 
sexual experience as distinct from motherhood. The origin of 
this longing in primitive, unsublimated instinctual drives mani- 
fests itself in various ways. Ardent wishes to be desired, strong 
aspirations to exclusive egoistic possession, a normally com- 
pletely passive attitude with regard to the first attack, and the 
desire to be raped that asserts itself in dreams and fears, are 
characteristic attributes of feminine sexuality. They are so 
fundamentally different from the emotional manifestations of 
motherhood that we are compelled to accept the opposition of 
sexuality and eroticism on one hand and reproductive instinct 
and motherhood on the other. Thus the double sexual role of 
woman expresses itself in the beginning, when we can see the 
psychologic manifestations of both aspects at the same time. 
Only later and gradually, perhaps not until the actual sexual 
experience has taken place, do the two tasks become closely 
interwoven; they either support and strengthen each other or 
come into conflict. Later we shall see how sexuality and 
motherhood are often in absolute emotional contradiction, and 
how they nevertheless merge in the deeper and unconscious life 
of the soul. 



THE most important event of puberty is menstruation. 
A biologic sign of sexual maturity, the first genital 
bleeding mobilizes psychic reactions so numerous and 
varied that we are justified in speaking of the "psychology of 
menstruation" as a specific problem. The intermingling of 
biologic hormonal events and psychologic reactions, the cyclic 
course of the somatic process, and the periodic return of men- 
struation, make it one of the most interesting of psychosomatic 
problems. The extent to which the two spheres of life the 
organic and the psychic influence each other, is a matter for 
experimental investigations. 1 

What interests us here is menstruation as a psychologic ex- 
perience. Even before it begins, young girls have definite 
expectations about it and typical emotional relations to it, with 
individual variations. Although we can speak of a "period of 
expectation, " it is not easy to give an exact definition of this 
period, which may be conceived in two different ways either 
as the period of maturation immediately preceding the first 
menstruation, or as the whole long period of the girl's uncon- 
scious preparation for femininity. During the longer period, 
menstruation, even when the girl does not know about it intel- 
lectually, acquires a psychologic existence that is of the greatest 
importance in determining her reaction to the later real and 
personal experience. 

One of the essential elements of this period of expectation is 
that the girl's childhood impressions of her mother's "secrets" 
connected with menstruation come into play. An obscure 
awareness of her mother's monthly indisposition manifests 

1 BBNEDBR, T., and RUBENSTEIN, B. B.: The sexual cycle in women. Psychosom. 
Med. Monog., vol. 3. Washington, D. C.: National Research Council, 1942. 


itself at an early date in the girl's fantasy life, and it is not 
always possible to ascertain whether, when, and to what extent 
she became familiar with the real nature of this process. Her 
mother's menstrual discomforts, blood-stained garments, and 
casual remarks can all make a very strong impression on the 
girl's mind. The younger she is and the more incapable of 
assimilating these impressions, the more painful, bloody, cruel, 
and threatening are these manifestations of femininity in rela- 
tion to her fantasy life. 

Psychoanalytic observations were the first to reveal the 
relation between the psychologic reactions to the first menstrua- 
tion and the female castration complex. 2 But the connection 
between menstruation and the reproductive function is also 
manifested in the contents of fantasy life as revealed by psycho- 
analysis, to such an extent that we might almost speak of an 
unconscious knowledge of the biologic significance of menstrua- 
tion. 8 The discoveries of M. Klein 4 and other authors of the 
English school demonstrated that the psychic reaction to the 
idea of a bleeding part of the body is not confined to the genital 
organ, and that the young girl's interest in her anatomy is 
transferred from the genital to the internal organs. In the 
anxieties provoked by the sight or imagined presence of blood, 
the idea of being torn and dismembered internally plays an 
extremely important part. 

All such ideas are deeply buried in the girl's unconscious 
Childhood events, educational factors during the latency period, 
and prepuberty experiences strongly influence them. They 
form the psychic content of the period of expectation, in the 
larger sense of that term. In a narrower sense we can give this 
name to the time when the girl awaits the approaching event in 

* We replace the term "female castration complex" by "genital trauma," which more 
exactly expresses our own view of the process referred to. In chapter vi the exact 
significance of this term will be discussed in detail. 

1 DBUTSCH, H.: Psychoanalyse der weiblichen Sexualfunktionen. Vienna: Internat 
Psychoanal. Verlag, 1925. 

4 KLEIN, M.: Introduction to child analysis. London: 1932. 


full awareness of its nature, or, if the milieu is unfavorable, in 
half-awareness. But in my opinion complete "surprise," to 
which many authors refer, can be the result only of repressions 
on the part of the girl or unusual neglect on the part of the per- 
sons around her. In the latter case the girl's elders must not 
only have omitted to inform her but must also have made it 
impossible for her to get information from others. Such a 
situation can arise only under exceptionally unfavorable circum- 
stances. The daughter of an inhibited mother who because of 
her own difficulties does her utmost to prevent her child from 
gaining any insight into sexual processes, usually has abundant 
opportunities of getting information elsewhere. Only if the 
girl is excessively shy and reserved in her contacts with friends 
of the same age can she remain unenlightened for long. 

But even under the most unfavorable circumstances it is 
extremely rare that a girl's lack of knowledge is due to any other 
factor than her own unwillingness to know. Such "ignorance" 
usually results from an earlier strong curiosity that has been 
repressed. Psychologic investigation in most instances re- 
veals that it is precisely the "surprised" girl who once had the 
wildest and most exotic ideas about the expected physiologic 
phenomenon. Out of fear and a sense of guilt, these irrational 
ideas are repressed and forgotten, and any rational ideas on the 
same subject seem to meet the same fate. 

Unfortunately the irrational ideas, cut off from intellectual 
influences, later produce much stronger effects than the rational 
ones. The sources of these irrational notions lie mostly in early 
childhood. Either they remain entirely unconscious or they 
assert themselves in the form of distorted ideas about menstrua- 
tion. But they may also be the product of later fantasy life, 
misunderstanding, false interpretation of real impressions, 
misinformation, etc. 

Let us assume that the young girl in the premenstrual period 
has a normal, uninhibited attitude, that is to say, she is ready 
to receive rational information. Educators are inclined to 
believe that the most appropriate source of information is the 


girl's own mother. Yet we must take the mother's psychology 
into account. Menstruation is very often the one thing that 
the mother conceals from her children with particular discre- 
tion; it is a secret, and the idea of revealing it meets with 
great psychologic resistance on her part. Many mothers find 
it much easier to talk with their daughters about conception, 
pregnancy, and birth than about menstruation. One often 
encounters profound obstacles in the mother even before finding 
them in the daughter. The writings of Daly 5 and Chadwick 6 
throw light on the motives for this concealment of menstruation 
by the mother. The anthropologic studies from which these 
two authors have drawn their data show that in many countries 
and cultures, both in the modern and in the ancient world, 
among the most primitive as well the most civilized peoples, 
menstruation was and still is connected with ideas of horror, 
danger, shame, and sin. Between the strict taboos of primi- 
tives and the many prejudices and fears of civilized peoples 
there is a bond of strong and deep-rooted identity. The super- 
stitions of the semi-educated, the fears of the immature and the 
neurotic, and the fantasies and dreams of most of us, all have a 
fatal similarity to the rules and prohibitions of primitives 
regarding menstruation. This will surprise us less if we realize 
that primitive taboos, like the fantasies of civilized people, are 
reflections of processes in that part of the mind that seems im- 
pervious to the influence of civilization. 

The anthropologists have been chiefly concerned with the 
reactions of the environment to the menstruating woman. 
Chadwick says: 'The taboos and superstitions which sur- 
rounded the menstruating woman were often increased in 
severity respecting the girl after the first menstrual period. 
She was, equally with the older woman, considered a grave 
public danger." 7 

5 DALY, C. D.: Der Menstruationskomplex. Imago, vol. 14, 1928. 

6 CHADWICK, M.: The psychological problems in menstruation. New York: Nerv. 

& Ment. Dis. Pub. Co., 1932. 

7 Ibid., p. 4. 


According to anthropologic data, all events, beliefs, and re- 
strictions connected with menstruating women express the 
general idea that women at this time are dangerous and dirty. 
Chadwick observes that the evil powers ascribed to menstruat- 
ing women are identical with those ascribed to witches in folk- 
lore. She quotes a passage in Pliny's Natural History: "The 
menstruating women blighted crops, blasted gardens, killed 
seedlings, brought down fruit from trees, killed bees, caused 
mares to miscarry. If they touched wine, it turned to vinegar; 
milk became sour, etc/' 8 

The widespread taboos against cohabitation with menstruat- 
ing women, the Jewish custom of purificatory baths, the 
horror associated with the sight of a naked woman during her 
menstruation, the similarities between witch cults and cere- 
monials and the anxieties connected with menstruation, are all 
very significant. 

If it is true that prejudices against menstruating women are 
found everywhere in people's unconscious minds and that men- 
struating women and witches are endowed with the same attrib- 
utes hatred, threat of death, magic powers, cannibalism, and 
poisoning potencies then the mother's motive in concealing 
her menstruation becomes clearer. Undoubtedly she fears her 
daughter's probable reaction to it. 

Many authors stress the importance of enlightening girls 
about menstruation. Havelock Ellis 9 vigorously advocates 
this step and points to the bad effects of ignorance as observed 
by numerous physicians: 

A large number of girls are not prepared by their mothers or teachers for 
the first onset of the menstrual flow, sometimes with disastrous results, both 
to their bodily and mental health. 

In a study of one hundred and twenty-five American high-school girls, 
Dr. Helen Kennedy ("Effects of Highschool Work upon Girls during Adoles- 
cence," Pedagogical Seminary, June, 1896) refers to the "modesty" which 

8 Ibid. 

ELLIS, H.: Studies in the psychology of sex. New York: Random House, 1928, 
vol. 2, pt. 3, p. 64. 


makes it impossible even for mothers and daughters to speak to each other 
concerning menstrual functions. "Thirty-six girls in this high school passed 
into womanhood with no knowledge whatever, from a proper source, of all 
that makes them women. Thirty-nine were probably not much wiser, for 
they stated that they had received some instruction, but had not talked 
freely on the matter. From the fact that the curious girl did not talk freely 
of what naturally interested her, it is possible that she was put off with a few 
words as to personal care, and a reprimand for her curiosity. Less than half 
of the girls felt free to talk with their mothers of this important matter." 

Edmond de Goncourt, in Cherie, describes the terror of his 
young heroine at the appearance of the first menstrual period, 
for which she had never been prepared. He adds : "It is very sel- 
dom, indeed, that women speak of this eventuality. Mothers 
fear to warn their daughters, elder sisters dislike confidences 
with their younger sisters, governesses are generally mute with 
girls who have no mother or sister." 

This demand for enlightenment is to a great extent justified. 
Those responsible for the upbringing of young girls commit a 
serious sin of omission if they fail to explain the facts to them. 
Psychoanalytic experience, however, shows that violent reac- 
tions to the appearance of the first menstruation have very little 
to do with intellectual ignorance. The latter, as has been said, 
is the result of a repression in the overwhelming majority of 
cases: the girl had more or less conscious strong motives for 
cutting herself off from knowledge or for repressing it after 
she had gained it. The emotional motives responsible for the 
rejection of conscious knowledge manifest themselves in other 
forms also. 

Observation shows that horror at being surprised, accusations 
against the mother, nervousness, and symptom formation are 
independent of intellectual knowledge. The girl's accusation 
that her mother failed to enlighten her about menstruation 
already instanced as encountered in prepuberty as well as in 
later stages may stem from different sources. It is often a 
reproach referring to all sorts of other situations in which her 

10 Op. cit., p. 65. 


mother had secrets, a reproach transferred from something else 
to menstruation. Even more frequently, the girl has reacted 
with a strong sense of guilt to her own curiosity and knowledge 
of hidden things, until she has succeeded in negating them, and 
her reproachtul "Why didn't you tell me about this?" makes the 
mother indirectly responsible for this guilty knowledge, now 

Naturally not all girls react in the same way to this new 
manifestation of their femininity. A young girl who awaits 
her menstruation in an environment of sisters or friends already 
mature seldom feels "surprised." For her, the onset of this 
process is a welcome sign of long-desired progress and she takes 
it for granted. Another girl, given the same conditions of en- 
lightenment and conscious expectation, may react with excite- 
ment, anxieties, and depressions that can be very intense and 
result in more complicated neurotic manifestations. Havelock 
Ellis describes one attempt at suicide as follows: 

A few years ago the case was reported in the French newspapers of a young 
girl of 15, who threw herself into the Seine at Saint-Ouen. She was rescued, 
and on being brought before the police commissioner said that she had been 
attacked by an "unknown disease" which had driven her to despair. Discreet 
inquiry revealed that the mysterious malady was one common to all women 
and the girl was restored to her insufficiently punished parents. 11 

Reports exist of a number of cases of girls who attempted suicide 
during menstruation because they were tormented by terrible 
fear of a painful disease, in spite of the fact that they were 
enlightened. The motives for such a reaction will be discussed 

In spite of the diversity of these manifestations, investigation 
reveals elements common to all of them anxiety, defense 
against the physiologic event, definite forms of accepting or 
negating it, self-accusations or charges against others, and 
various fantasy formations that, however, stem from common 
roots. The chief expression is anxiety, in which the approach- 



ing adulthood and sexuality are experienced as a threatening 
danger. The forms in which this anxiety manifests itself exert 
a great influence on the processes of puberty. 

During prepuberty menstruation is for many girls one of the 
important subjects of "secrets." The little friends observe the 
older girls with curiosity and envy, they respect, admire, and 
pity them, and wonder in a strong spirit of competition whose 
turn will come next. This conscious and whipped-up expecta- 
tion typically ends in great disappointment. The young girl 
hopes that with the onset of menstruation her role with regard 
to her environment will change, that she herself will experience 
something new and momentous. Above all, she hopes to be 
recognized as a grownup and to acquire new rights. "Grown-up- 
ness" for her means freedom from her own inability to achieve 
anything and, above all, from the restrictions and renuncia 
tions that she has to suffer as a child and that are imposed upon 
her by the grownups, especially her mother. These restrictions 
are chiefly directed against the aggressions and sexual activities 
of childhood. We know that the former are intensified during 
prepuberty and that during puberty sexuality also manifests 
itself in increased tension, although it has not as yet a definite 
aim. However, menstruation, that important sign of maturity, 
does not bring about any advantageous change. On the con- 
trary, the girl's aggressiveness comes into even stronger conflict 
with her sense of guilt, and the increased wave of sexuality only 
leads to a more intensive struggle against masturbation. Young 
girls who have reacted to the first menstruation with depressions 
often openly admit that they were previously informed about 
the facts and yet experienced a painful feeling of being sur- 
prised. The surprising element was the sense of disappoint- 
ment that may be expressed thus: "Here is the longed-for, 
tremendous event, yet nothing has changed around me or 
inside me." 

Very often mothers accused of not having enlightened their 
daughters tell us that what prevented them from speaking was 
not their own shyness but the girl's unwillingness to be enlight- 


ened by them. We recall that Evelyn's mother (p. 38) was a 
shy and inhibited woman who was incapable of discussing 
sexual matters with her daughters; for reasons rooted in her 
own psychology she left the job of enlightening Evelyn to the 
latter's older sister. But many more emancipated and modern 
mothers have observed that their young daughters prefer by far 
to be instructed by their friends and sisters. The cause of this 
attitude seems clear to us. During the girl's early childhood 
her mother's menstruation was associated with cruelty, un- 
cleanness, bad odors, and reactions of disgust. All these 
emotions are mobilized again when the mother broaches the 
subject of menstruation and they create in the daughter a feel- 
ing of repulsion toward the mother. 

All observations suggest that, whether or not the girl is given 
intellectual knowledge, even when she has the best possible 
information about the biologic aspects of the process, and de- 
spite its wish-fulfilling character, the first menstruation is usu- 
ally experienced as a trauma. Naturally much depends upon 
the age of the girl, her level of psychologic development, her 
milieu, etc. According to some educators, early onset of 
menstruation, that is, at an age when the young girl is still very 
much dependent on her family for the care of her body, is felt 
as a new burden, another irksome duty imposed by the grown- 
ups, like taking her baths, changing her underwear, seeing to 
it that her bowel movements are regular, etc. The child pro- 
tests strongly against these new requirements, sticks her dirty 
underclothes into bureau drawers or hides them in various cor- 
ners of the house, and refuses to bother with the necessary 
protective measures. She also feels restricted in her normal 
activities, such as sports gymnastics, swimming, etc. The 
fact that menstruation is a mark of approaching adulthood has 
no effect upon her and the knowledge that she is ahead of other 
girls is small compensation for her discomforts. 

It is my impression that every phase of puberty has its own 
typical reaction to menstruation. If its first occurrence comes 
at a time when the girl has not yet psychologically advanced 


beyond the stage of prepuberty, genital bleeding is treated as 
though it were a new eliminatory function. The young girl is 
extraordinarily ashamed of this phenomenon, tries to conceal 
it, and each time she is detected feels as though she had been 
caught doing something unclean, This view of menstruation 
as unclean is a direct descendant of the cloaca theory, according 
to which everything coming from the lower apertures of the 
body is dirty and distasteful, The idea of dirtiness can in 
fantasy be extended to the entire body and the girl feels "un- 
clean" and depreciated as a whole. Her relation to herself 
now corresponds to her old relation to her menstruating mother, 
mentioned above, and to those taboos and superstitions in 
which a girl who is menstruating for the first time is treated as 
unclean in the highest degree. 

This attitude relating the first menstruation with excretory 
functions is particularly strong in girls who have suffered irom 
enuresis or enteritis. If they are surprised at night by the 
wetness of the blood, they are sure their old troubles have re- 
turned; if they notice stains on their underwear during the day, 
they try to combat the evil by dietary measures, etc. 

It is a well known fact that many young girls, during several 
years of childhood and sometimes even beyond puberty, suffer 
from involuntary discharge of small quantities of urine when 
going up or down stairs, climbing hills, making sudden motions, 
and particularly during laughing fits. This widespread and 
well known symptom of "weak bladder" can to some degree be 
explained by purely physiologic factors: many authorities be- 
lieve that the organic sphincter control of the bladder is weaker 
in females than in males. Psychologically, this incontinence 
can have very unpleasant effects upon girls. They feel re- 
stricted in their freedom of movement and often renounce social 
pleasures lest they stain their dresses or chairs during a fit of 
gaiety. Sometimes one hears young girls complain that they 
have lost the habit of "real laughter" out of fear of wetting 

Whether this bladder difficulty is psychologically determined 


is difficult to decide; at any rate, it has tar reaching psycho- 
logic repercussions. The girl denies herself every joy of life, 
every pleasurable emotion, justifying her renunciation by her 
fear of being embarrassed as a result of incontinence. In other 
words, she thinks that any gratification will be paid for with 
a disgraceful penalty. The old infantile theory that the boy has 
a kind of spigot that can be shut off, while the girl has only an 
opening that is difficult to control, can be reactivated and 
bring about a new devaluation of the entire female organism. 
Under these circumstances, the first menstruation may like- 
wise easily be experienced as an uncontrollable discharge of 
body fluid. In later life, when such a girl is a grown-up woman, 
she will have a tendency to avoid social contacts during her 
periods and will justify this attitude by experiencing pain and a 
feeling of weakness. She often feels that she has an enormously 
copious flow, tries to protect herself by using several pads, does 
not have the courage to leave home, and uses menstruation as 
a restrictive factor of great importance in her whole life. Thus 
at every menstrual period she repeats the difficulties that she 
once experienced because of her sphincter weakness. 

Many women have the habit of spending a few days in bed 
during their periods, although they have no complaints that 
could serve as a pretext for doing so. It is true that usually 
such women belong to social classes in which feminine idleness 
is taken for granted. But in most cases this is not a simple 
manifestation of fastidousness, nor an effort to "forestall aging," 
although in many women the latter is the conscious motive 
for their voluntary isolation. The real motive is the desire 
of these women to flee from the reactions of their environment 
(taboos) and from their own intensified aggressions and sexual 
dangers, their intensified readiness to enter into conflicts 
with others, etc. This general motive is usually accompanied 
by more specific and personal ones. During their first men- 
struations, these women were treated with particular tender- 
ness and forbearance by their families, usually their mothers. 
The "poor child" was surrounded with the greatest solicitude, 


and the attitude of her family made her feel that she was en- 
titled to have the ruthlessness of nature compensated by partic- 
ular consideration. There are women who admit that the 
days of their menses are the most peaceful and happiest for 
them. They achieve complete serenity and relaxation, allow 
themselves to be lovingly cared for, and free themselves from 
their usual obligations, including those toward their own 
children; often in the subdued light of her warm room this 
mature woman feels like a baby in its mothers lap or in the 
cradle. For such women, in contrast to most others, these days 
are days of particularly good understanding with their mothers. 
The childhood experience of having received more tender care 
from their mothers during illness, or having had the right to 
make greater demands upon them during those days, is re- 
peated by these adult women, and now during the "monthly 
illness" their relation to their mothers is affectionate. 

Other women, while they demand considerate treatment 
from those around them, display an angry aggressive mood 
particularly toward their mothers and substitute persons. 
These women, like those discussed above, were as a rule 
psychologically immature when they began to menstruate; 
they were either attached to their mothers in an infantile 
fashion or began to menstruate prematurely. In later life, 
by a kind of inner compulsion, they repeat this behavior 
during each subsequent menstrual period. 

Girls who have a disposition to obsessional neurosis usually 
regard menstruation as something "filthy," but in this case 
not because they are immature. In the obsessional neurotics 
we have something deeper that manifests itself throughout 
life. They are extremely clean in other respects, too, but 
during menstruation they pay particular attention to their 
bodies, especially their genitals, and are obsessionally preoc- 
cupied with cleanness of these organs and thoroughly and 
pedantically wash out every vestige of blood. 

The idea that menstruation is something filthy often leads to 
excessive modesty. It has been observed during criminal 


trials that a woman will more easily acknowledge that she 
has committed an aggressive crime involving bloodshed than 
that a given blood stain is from her own menstruation. It 
has often happened that women whose blood-stained under- 
wear is adduced as an evidence of their guilt have hesitated to 
use menstruation as an alibi. 

Faithful River > a novel by the great Polish writer Zeromski, 
depicts the episode of a Russian attack on a country house 
during a Polish insurrection. A wounded Polish rebel is 
hidden by the young daughter of the family. The Russian 
soldiers find blood stains on the bed used by the wounded 
man. Questioned by the Russians, the girl, who is in love 
with the rebel, calmly replies: "That is my blood/' 

The novelist, who has a deep knowledge of the feminine 
soul, adds: "After she had said these heroic words and made 
this unprecedented sacrifice for her lover, she was consumed 
by shame. She had the feeling that she was drowning in blood 
and that she would choke with mortification." 

It is also known that even professional prostitutes find 
nothing so humiliating and mortifying as the baring of men- 
struation before men. 

Often the young girl develops an attitude of absolute nega- 
tion toward her first menstruation. She simply refuses to 
concern herself with it, does not change her manner of living, 
and denies the existence of her monthly indisposition. Many 
preserve this attitude later too, and even say defiantly that 
they will not be bothered by menstruation. Often this nega- 
tion goes so far that these girls are particularly enterprising 
and active in sports, dancing, swimming, etc., during their 
menses. This kind of reaction is characteristic of the boyish 
or tomboyish girl, who thus tries to express her defiant feeling 
"It is true that I am not a boy, but I don't see what difference 
it makes." If this tendency grows stronger, the girl turns 
away from her femininity more and more, constantly behaves 
in a boyish fashion, and if at the time of her first menstruation 
she is still in the phase of bisexual irresolution, the first flow 


nca paradoxically exert a negative influence on her final decision 
to be a woman. 

Girls who have achieved a certain degree of psychologic 
maturity display a completely different attitude toward their 
first menses. 

In order iully to understand this complicated reaction to a 
normal biologic process, one must constantly keep before one's 
eyes the total picture of puberty. In the preceding chapter 
we spoke of the emotional life of the young, as well as of the 
intensified vulnerability that is characteristic of it. We tried 
to explain adolescent narcissism on the basis of the entire 
course of development of the individual, and we learned that 
the more intensified demands of the sexual drives, the conflict 
between the desire for gratification and the resistance to it, 
are important elements in the picture as a whole. 

We are justified in expecting that during this period of life 
every experience particularly experiences that seem im- 
portant should easily excite the whole personality, and that 
the reactions to it should stem from various parts of the 
psychologic whole. The young girl's narcissistic ego may 
welcome menstruation as a satisfying step along the road to 
adulthood. But deep-lying regressive forces influence, disturb, 
and often even paralyze this progressive attitude. During 
the first menses the sexual forces to a greater or lesser extent 
take possession of the psychic scene and find powerful allies 
in unconscious elements that now re-emerge from repression. 
Thus we are confronted here too, as in all other functions of 
puberty, with a conflict between progressive and regressive 
forces. In this conflict, the biologic significance of menstrua- 
tion is on the progressive side, the emotional reactions on the 

Let us once again recall how intently the young, with their 
heightened self-love, listen to outside voices that confirm their 
own valuations of themselves, how intently they observe 
their own subjective experiences, and how they try to utilize 
these to develop self-confidence. They admire their own 


intellectual capacities, try to strengthen them, emphasize their 
superiority by an "objective attitude/' and forge weapons 
for defending themselves against their own anxieties. 

But is it not only the psychic life that in this phase of develop- 
ment receives intensified self-observation and self-love. The 
young girl takes her own body as the object of her self-love 
much more often than the boy. Sometimes the pubescent 
girl changes the forms of her self-love: first she delights in 
admiration given by those around her to her femininity, and 
in this the competitive drive to be prettier than other girls 
(usually certain other girls) is of the greatest importance for 
her. Often, after a phase marked by vanity, interest in 
clothes, parties, and flirtations, the girl turns away completely 
from this kind of pleasure, becomes interested in "higher 
things/' and develops her ambition in new directions. The 
"flight from femininity" is not always the motive force here; 
it is often a certain blas feeling, a surfeit of this type of suc- 
cess, that leads her to seeknew gratifications. The hunger for 
new possibilities of narcissistic gratification induces the girl 
to rise above the emptiness of her previous existence and turn 
to better things. It is often striking that in the course of this 
metamorphosis she suddenly begins to neglect herself physi- 
cally, loses her previous charm, and shows her disregard of 
externals in her clothing, behavior, etc. 

This abrupt change in the girl's relation to herself, the dis- 
placement of her interest from physical to spiritual matters, 
can also take place in an inverse sequence: suddenly, after a 
period of intense spiritualization, the girl devotes more atten- 
tion to the bodily processes, but only from the point of view 
of "beauty" and outward appearance. The secondary sex 
characteristics (breasts, hair) attract her attention first and 
she either accepts or rejects them. Efforts to flatten out the 
chest and cutting or plucking out of pelvic hair are common 
manifestations of a negative attitude. In this narcissistic 
puberty phase, when love for her own body increases in the girl, 
we can observe a particularly anxious concern for its welfare. 


Narcissistic vulnerability in relation to the body as a whole is 
expressed principally in the rejection of anything that might 
destroy its integrity. This attitude, acquired in early child- 
hood, becomes a permanent part of the unconscious and is 
preserved for many years. Throughout their lives individuals 
of both sexes react to wounds on their own bodies in a manner 
that betrays the influence of the infantile "castration complex/' 

Because of the sexual stimuli and especially because of the 
menstrual bleeding, the genitals become the center of uneasy 
attention and feelings of injury. They are conceived as a 
part of the entire body that regains a special importance 
during menstruation because it is the site of increased tension. 
The reactions to these feelings are varied; injuries and other 
morbid processes in the body may later mobilize the same 
reactions in the unconscious as menstruation. Peculiarities 
in the behavior of many women when they suffer minor wounds, 
nosebleeds, etc., illustrate this point. 

The most primitive of these reactions expresses the desire to 
"heal" the part of the body that is now felt to have experienced 
a "wound" in this case the genitals by reconstituting the 
well integrated intact whole, which is felt to be damaged during 
menstruation. This elementary fantasy centered around the 
reconstruction of the body also has a more complicated motive. 
In our opinion, this is the repetition of a definite phase of child- 
hood during which the girl wanted to have an active organ 
like the boy's. However, it would be false to assume that we 
have here merely a repetition compulsion and a revival of 
traces of old memories. This wish of the girl arises in puberty 
for the same reasons that it arose in childhood under the 
pressure of active sexual drives and masturbatory impulses. 
That is why the reactions to the first menstruation are so 
largely dependent upon what has taken place with regard to 
masturbation. Most observers agree that with the onset of the 
first menstruation there is an intensification of sexual excitabil- 
ity. It is of the greatest importance whether the girl, at the 
onset of menstruation, masturbates or has already given up 


masturbation under the pressure of guilt feelings or is still 
struggling to wean herself away from masturbation. Men- 
struation either leads the girl to abandon masturbation, or 
conversely, the biologically determined tension accompanying 
this process incites her to masturbate. Anxiety and guilt 
feelings in the latter case endow the bleedings with associa- 
tions of cruelty, suffering, and punishment, and mobilize the 
old childhood reactions connected with the genital problem, 
anatomic differences, etc. 

Later, the monthly bleedings often cause a repetition of this 
behavior for many years: masturbatory practices, often of a 
compulsive character, are given up with the onset of the flow 
(sometimes shortly before), only to be taken up again as soon 
as it ceases; or the reverse may be the case, these practices 
being carried on only during the menses, even where there 
is a completely satisfactory sex life. 

Abnormal reactions to the first menses are extremely varied. 
Intensified excitability, feelings of discomfort, greater sus- 
ceptibility to fatigue, and depressions are frequent manifesta- 
tions of puberty as a whole; usually they increase during 

The tendency to develop anxiety states, which is intensified 
during the entire period preceding adulthood, is particularly 
strong at the time of the first menses. Girls previously rela- 
tively free from anxiety now suddenly display this state and 
to a varying extent display it again every month. This 
anxiety manifests itself in general tension or irritability. 

If the young girl has a neurotic disposition that has not yet 
broken through, and if the whole course of her prepuberty 
has been under the sign of unresolved inner conflicts, her first 
menstruation may cause the outbreak of a neurosis or morbid 
activities, as in the case of Evelyn (p. 37), Often the anxiety 
assumes a phobic character; the girl's interest in her own body 
may develop into hypochondriasis, and the guilty feelings may 
lead to paranoid reactions. 

However, the entire process of maturation is marked by 


heightened inner tension and the whole personality of the 
young individual is engrossed in the struggle for liberation 
and adjustment to reality on the one hand, and the effort to 
master the sexual drives on the other. It is clear that menstru- 
ation is also involved in this struggle. It intensifies the already 
existing problems and creates others, and its accompanying 
psychologic manifestations correspond to the existing stimuli 
from within and without. 

There are also more direct reactions to the physiologic ex- 
perience; these are connected with its acceptance or rejection. 
They may manifest themselves even during the "period of 
expectation" and in this case are mostly defensive, simple 
functional inhibitions. They lead to a kind of retention of 
menstruation, which, despite all the symptoms of physical 
and psychologic maturity, begins extraordinarily late. Or, 
just as frequently, menstruation begins and then is interrupted 
for years. As a rule, it is very difficult to influence this func- 
tional disturbance by organic treatment, but psychologic 
treatment sometimes removes it with surprising rapidity. 
Such therapeutic success does not result in every instance, 
nor is the treatment always successful in the same degree; yet 
our experience in this field gives strong proof of the psychogenic 
nature of these disturbances. The stoppage of menstruation 
after a single appearance is usually found upon examination 
to be a "shock reaction" provoked by the horror with which 
the first bleeding was received. The organic process by which 
this violent physical reaction is brought about is still to be 
discovered. Analytic experience suggests that psychogenic 
amenorrhea appearing in later life often has a very complicated 
psychologic structure stemming from many sources. The same 
is probably true of the events of puberty. The inhibiting 
shock reaction is also the expression of a process that has 
many roots. 

Menstrual pains constitute another complication of the 
normal course of development. This manifestation, too, has 
many causes, of which some are general and some individual. 


Most authors who have studied the psychologic processes 
accompanying such pains connect them with birth fantasies. 
It is true that this determinant is present most of the time, 
but even with the application of psychoanalytic technic it is 
hard to ascertain whether the pains originate in the fantasies, 
or vice versa. A certain naive motivation of the pains seems 
to me very typical of the first menstruation. The still very 
young girl is embarrassed by this physiologic process and 
finds it most convenient to regard it as a mere "illness." Thus 
she escapes from the sexual significance of the process and at 
the same time negates its disturbing content relating to the 
future. For the child, pain is always the symptom of illness, 
tor which she is not responsible, which entitles her to loving 
care, and which surely passes away. Now too her mother 
assures her that "everything will soon be fine again." Pain 
is a sort of diversion maneuver in the conflict, and the bodily 
processes give sufficient opportunities for using this way out. 

Yet the experience of the first menstruation as a "disease" 
can take a much more pathologic course. Thus in the case 
described by Havelock Ellis (p. 155), the young girl wanted to 
commit suicide because she had an "unknown disease." Can 
one really believe that a disease, just because it is unknown, 
would induce someone to commit suicide if it did not have a 
deeper psychologic significance? The impulsive attempt at 
suicide could only have been the product of an old and torment- 
ing psychologic conflict, the solution of which was made more 
difficult by the onset of menstruation. In this girl's eyes, 
menstruation was perhaps the obvious fulfillment of a sub- 
conscious threat and thus increased her anxiety to such an 
extent that she could no longer overcome it. Some measure 
of depressive mood during menstruation is extraordinarily 
frequent, and an attempt at suicide could easilyhave resulted 
from a deeper depression. 

This girl perhaps belonged to that group of women who 
harbor strong sadistic impulses and can control them only so 
long as no agent provocateur makes continued control impossible. 


That aggressive drives intensify during menstruation is a 
generally known fact; the laws of many countries treat it as an 
extenuating circumstance in crime, And it has often been 
shown that intensified aggression can turn against one's own 
self and lead to suicide. It was perhaps the blood itself that 
had an irritating and provoking character; or perhaps, even 
during her period of expectation, the girl had imagined in- 
tensely that something "terrible" would happen to her body 
when she grew up. For all girls the future contains many 
mysterious and terrifying elements with regard to their bodies, 
and their expectation ideas often arouse anxiety. 

We have pointed out that menstruation is experienced as an 
illness even in simpler cases. Thus, the girl's attitude toward 
menstruation is a kind of rationalization that strips the process 
of its mystery and profound meaning. 

Another extremely interesting attempt to solve the menstru- 
ation conflict is of an anatomic character. The bleeding in 
this case is not eliminated as in amenorrhea, but the psycho- 
logic influence on the physiologic process is such that the 
bleeding takes place in another part of the body. I have seen 
several cases of so-called vicarious menstruation in which 
bleeding took place every month or at irregular intervals, 
but never affected the genitals. Often it is transferred to a 
part of the body removed as far as possible from the genitals 
(nose, chin, etc.), and the choice of the substitute organ is 
usually psychologically determined. One of the strangest 
examples I know is that of a patient whose psychoanalytic 
treatment started when she was 22 years old and who had 
suffered from amenorrhea for seven years. At the age of 15 
she had one normal menstruation; later she suffered from 
irregular bleedings under the skin of one ear lobe, to which 
she always reacted with the most violent hypochondriac anxie- 
ties. Each time she imagined that she had cancer and would 
inevitably die as a result of the bleeding ulcer under her ear 
lobe. Her case was diagnosed as one of vicarious menstrua- 
tion; all attempts of gynecologists to restore the normal 


menstrual cycle failed. Later, the bleedings under the ear 
lobe ceased, but she failed to menstruate for many years. 

In the course of her psychoanalytic treatment, the patient 
developed fantasies in which the vagina was avoided as an 
organ and everything connected with femininity was centered 
in her back. She complained of pains in her back at almost 
periodic intervals, and their psychologic origin was evident 
from the analysis. One day the patient was informed by a 
telegram that her sister had given birth to a child. The fol- 
lowing day she complained of terrible pains in her back and 
told me that she could feel a lump there. I sent her to a 
gynecologist, who found that an operation was indicated. 
Later he told me that he had discovered something he had 
never seen before in all his practice: biopsy revealed a large 
number of blood-filled cysts in the tissues around the vertebrae, 
and the consistency of the blood showed them to be of both 
old and new formation. There was no doubt that they were 
vicarious menstruations that, in conformity with the patient's 
fantasies, had avoided the genitals and were localized in her 
back. It is quite possible, however, that certain physiologic 
factors had intensified and influenced her fantasy life, as is 
always the case in the formation of a psychosomatic symptom. 

In our patient, the psychologic components of the bleeding 
ear lobe symptom were easily ascertainable, but the organic 
process remains obscure and hypothetic. Even in her early 
childhood the patient had been a "diversionist via the ear/' 
and in her struggle against masturbation she used the device 
of "plucking" her ear. It is true that the ear lobes are used 
for this purpose mostly by boys; girls favor the hair, finger- 
nails, etc., but it is impossible to formulate any general rule on 
this point. It is noteworthy that during her puberty our 
patient resorted to the same organ as a substitute for her 
genitals that she had chosen during her childhood the ear. 

Little Andrea in the story quoted above (p. 32) also said 
that she would prefer "to bleed every day from her nose or the 
pulse artery in her wrist, so that it could be seen/' In other 


words, she directly and consciously proposed to menstruate 
vicariously, in order to avoid the genitals. 

Other forms of menstrual disorders will be discussed below. 

As the young girl's personality develops, as her adjustment 
to reality progresses and her attitude to her entire body be- 
comes transformed, her valuation of her genitals undergoes 
a change. Just as her whole personality is torn during puberty 
between narcissistic vanity and feelings of inferiority, just as 
she sometimes ardently admires and sometimes sharply 
criticizes her oft-contemplated image in the mirror, so her 
attitude toward her genitals during this period is full of con- 
tradictions. Let us recall the girl's double valuation of the 
genital organ a "cloaca" and a "jewel." Now the girl 
begins to be concerned with preserving this "treasure" intact. 
This positive narcissistic attitude is her soundest and most 
reliable chastity belt. But exaggeration of this attitude and 
intensification of anxious worries about the genitals can be a 
symptom of neurotic disturbance. The more narcissistic 
the girl's relation to her body, the stronger will be the anxious 
reaction, which sometimes is transferred from the genitals to 
other parts of the body and expresses itself in typical puberty 

One manifestation of such a narcissistic attitude is the girl's 
overestimation of herself as a sexual object, which leads her to 
believe that the man who will one day possess her sexually 
will receive an unusual and particularly desirable gift. Later 
she can barely grasp the fact that what she possessed and was 
able to give is not unique at all. Even a harmless approach 
on the part of a man may result in grave depressive reactions 
in such girls; they feel that they have been dragged down from 
their pedestal of inaccessiblity. Sometimes depersonalization 
states appear and the young girl maintains that she is no 
longer "herself"; she is alienated from herself, and her previous 
lofty opinion of herself is shaken. Adolescence, with its typical 
intensification of narcissism, creates particular proneness to 
such reactions. 


In girls of morbid disposition, the onset of menstruation, or 
the first erotic experience connected with a strong genital 
excitation, may release psychotic symptoms. The physiologic 
changes are interpreted as "enchantment," as induced by 
"some strange machinery," etc. To save her own person 
from guilt and destruction, the patient transforms her whole 
body into someone else's. In one case I found that this 
transformation consisted in identification with a girl who had 
been sexually seduced and later deserted by the patient's 
own fiance. The patient's own sexual excitation and the 
sexual approach of the fiance shattered her narcissistic seclusion 
as well as her overestimation of her own person and her hitherto 
"unapproachable jewel," thus mobilizing the psychotic reac- 

This estimation of the genitals as a "jewel" is partly the 
result of education, partly of the young girl's narcissistic 
appraisal of her own femininity during adolescence, and 
above all, of the overcompensation of all the emotions con- 
nected with the old genital trauma. 

I have always supported the theory that, while the anatomic 
difference has important consequences, the importance of 
these derives from physiologic processes, particularly from 
the subjectively felt sexual excitation. Thus we see that the 
little girl's interest in her genitals appears especially when 
masturbatory activity and somatic sensations steer her attention 
in this direction. Without this prerequisite, her interest in 
the anatomic difference does not involve very far reaching 
psychologic consequences. 12 During puberty, as a result of 
bodily growth and the rise of sexual excitation that is physio- 
logically conditioned, this interest is reawakened and psycho- 
logic expressions of the genital trauma are again mobilized. 
Anger, shame, depression, feelings of inferiority and guilt, 
everything rooted in the girl's old genital conflict, now comes 
to the fore. Unless the genital trauma has been greatly intensi- 

"Deutsch, H.: Op. cit. 


fied by individual experiences, it is mastered by the feminine 
tendencies mobilized by the first menstruation. Emotional 
contents of a decidedly feminine character take the place 
of the penis wish and penis envy. Fears of defloration and 
rape, mobilized and strengthened by the onset of menstruation, 
accompany the young girl's sexual fantasies at this time. 
Menstruation becomes a decisive experience in this process 
of ieminization. 

The intensification of sexual excitation and the formation of 
numerous psychologic phenomena relating to it are still under 
the sign of an individual personal experience. Inner prepara- 
tion for sexual pleasure that is the prize of maturity, obscure 
premonitions of a painful experience, fears of defloration and 
rape, attempts to escape, defensive processes, etc. all these are 
preliminaries to the gratification of the sexual instinct. This 
goal is biologically determined and identical for both sexes; 
the intensity and strength of the urge is different in each. 
Only in the methods of achieving it do we find the full dif- 
ferentiation between man and woman. 

When we investigate the psychologic phenomena accompany- 
ing the first menstruation, we discover that there is hardly 
ayounggirl who is not at this time confronted with the problem 
of the reproductive function in some form. For the first time 
in the girl's development, we are faced with the double function 
of the female as a sexual creature and as a servant of the 
species. In this double function woman tends much more 
strongly than man in the nonindividualistic direction, that is 
to say, her inclination is in favor of the species, in favor of the 
reproductive functions. From now on the problems of the 
girl who has become a woman are clearly defined: they are a 
conflict or a harmony of many contradictory elements. In 
addition to the questions of masculine versus feminine and 
active versus passive, there is now perhaps the most compli- 
cated question of them all the alternative between individual 
being and servant of the species. No matter how great the 
girl's psychologic preparation for taking over the last-named 


role has been, there is no doubt that with her first menstrua- 
tion her fantasy life turns strongly toward the reproductive 
function. During her menstruation, whether her reaction is 
that of wish fulfillment or anxiety, whether the biologic phe- 
nomenon appears as a promise or a disappointment, again and 
again the girl's unconscious shows psychologic contents result- 
ing from biologic processes connected with propagation. It 
remains an open question whether the connection between the 
two is causal. Closer examination almost always reveals that 
these fantasies that emerge during menstruation date from an 
earlier period in which the causal connection did not yet exist. 

The fantasies mobilized by the first menstruation express 
wishes and fears relating to pregnancy and childbirth; in 
part these are obscure unconscious forebodings, in part they 
derive from vague bits of information picked up from the secrets 
of the grownups; in other cases they relate to clear intellectual 
knowledge about the physiologic meaning of menstruation. 
Knowledge plays a greater role under conditions of modern 
education than under those of the old-fashioned training of 
young girls. 

The connection between the physiologic fact and the psycho- 
logic reactions is surprisingly far reaching. In addition to the 
anxieties and hopes mobilized by the first menstruation, the 
girls' unconscious fantasies suggest that psychologically too 
the process is vested with what is actually its biologic meaning 
and what will later be realized consciously disappointment 
in the expectation of a child. 

The depressive moods that, as we have seen, so frequently 
accompany menstruation, usually contain this element of 
disappointment. We do not observe them before the onset 
of the first menstruation; sometimes they appear before the 
second, but as a rule premenstrual depressions set in only after 
several years. This can be explained by the fact that in the 
course of the menstrual cycle the premenstrual bodily sensa- 
tions are repeated over and over again. This experience 
teaches women to be sensitive to the preliminary stages of the 


organic processes. Here the parallelism between the biologic 
process and the psychologic reactions may express an inner 
perception originating in experience. 

Why many women suffer menstrual depressions before the 
menstrual period, and others during it, is not clear. Many 
women who suffer from premenstrual depressions report that 
with the onset of the flow they experience a joyful feeling of 
liberation. They forget from month to month that their 
periodic depression is caused by the approach of the menses 
and breathe relief when onset of menstruation supplies a 
rational explanation of this depression. Most of thesewomen 
have preserved the prepuberty expectation that something 
terrible is about to happen to them and are pleasantly sur- 
prised every month when the event they have awaited with 
such anxiety turns out to be only the ordinary physiologic 

The consequences of the psychologic influences of early 
childhood will come to the fore later too in all the reproductive 
functions. Developments in early years, identification with 
feminine objects, especially the mother, environmental in- 
fluences, etc., create in the young girl an inner disposition that 
will manifest itself when a suitable provocation occurs. The 
first menstruation gives this inner disposition an occasion 
to emerge into the light of day. Thus, the psychic reactions 
connected with the problem of the reproductive functions 
always have an individual character. But there is one thing 
that is common in all women: with or without intellectual 
preparation, knowing or only sensing, the young girl connects 
menstruation with childbirth. The nai've and ignorant Andrea 
(p. 32), when she notices the bleeding, says wistfully: "It is 
ridiculous, but I cannot help thinking about what happens 
when one has children/' 

Many young girls believe that during menstruation they 
must avoid contact with men; with some this attitude originates 
in their own perception of their intensified sexual excitability; 
in others it is an old traditional prejudice that has been passed 


on by the mother (or another woman); in many others it ex- 
presses the unconscious fear of pregnancy that is psycho- 
logically closely connected with menstruation. The observer 
comes to realize that the young girl suffering from grave 
anxiety states and pregnancy symptoms is only expressing 
her alarm at her own sexual excitation that she cannot under- 
stand. The fear of having been made pregnant by use of the 
bathroom, by sitting on a warm chair, by a kiss or an ardent 
embrace, etc., is much more frequent than the uninitiated 
would suspect and, paradoxically, is not always influenced 
by sexual enlightenment or experience. The degree of con- 
sciousness or unconsciousness of these fears depends upon the 
girl's intellectual knowledge. A girl who is sexually en- 
lightened has pregnancy symptoms without explaining them 
on the basis of a kiss, but in her unconscious the excitation felt 
during a kiss can become the theme of a pregnancy fantasy, 
while an unenlightened girl naively believes that the kiss 
has caused her to be pregnant. An interesting example of the 
fear of pregnancy and of typical reactions to the first menstrua- 
tion was given me by a 1 4-year-old girl whom I had an op- 
portunity to observe during her stay in the hospital. Most 
of the material quoted below is taken from her hospital records. 


The 1 4-year old patient was brought to the clinic by her mother. She 
complains of various fears, especially the fear of fainting and the fear of dying. 
She avoids going into the street, as she is afraid she will faint there and does 
not wish to be seen lying down. Her fear also becomes more intense in a 
closed room and she has to reassure herself constantly that she will be able to 
leave such a room; she cannot sit or stand still in the house, has to open the 
windows, go to the ice box, or wander around eating an apple or drinking a 
glass of milk. Her fear of dying is especially great at night; she keeps herself 
awake for fear of dying in her sleep. She is afraid of contracting a heart 
disease, like one of her girl friends who has a rheumatic heart. At times every- 
thing is unreal and she feels far away from everybody. At other times, every- 
thing seems strangely close to her she can see herself somewhere in the 
Pacific, fighting with the troops, etc. In large groups she feels isolated and 
unreal. She had to stop going to school, to the movies, or on buses. 


The girl is the fourth of five siblings. Her father is described as extremely 
strict and narrow-minded. He criticizes the appearance and behavior of his 
children at every meal. The mother is a worried, unhappy person who re- 
sents the fact that she had to have four babies in four years. Ever so often 
the parents are not on speaking terms for weeks, especially after attempts of 
the mother to defend the patient. Several times the mother has left the house 
for three or four days, threatening never to come back. 

The patient's older sister married an actor against the mother's will; two 
brothers, also older than the patient, had difficulties of adjustment in adoles- 
cence and one of them ran away from home. 

The patient was a gifted youngster. At the age of 13 she was a good tap 
dancer but gave up performing on account of stage fright. Although she 
made friends, she was fundamentally shy. She has written a good deal of 
poetry. In adolescence she became very close to a girl friend two years older 
than herself who had to stay at home most of the time on account of heart 
disease. She took the troubles of the family very seriously and often felt that 
she ought to take the mother's burdens on her shoulders. She has always 
believed that her father has not liked her as much as her younger sister, except 
at a time when she broke her arm; he shows some feeling for her now since she 
has "the nerves." The quarrels between her parents weigh heavily upon 
her, but she has a feeling that through her illness they have been reunited. 
Whereas all her siblings have decided that in case of a parental divorce they 
will stay with either the father or the mother, the patient is the only one who 
wants to stay only with both of them. She likes to think about boys, but 
shrinks from going out with them, for she cannot defend herself except by 
blushing, and one girl in her school became pregnant. She took the greatest 
interest in her older sister's pregnancy and 'delivery and recalls that her pres- 
ent fear of death actually began when she heard after the birth that women 
often die in childbirth. 

Her present illness first manifested itself after two of her classmates fainted 
in school when the teacher told the class that during the first world war 
corpses were found in garbage cans. Although she herself did not faint, the 
patient felt the faints, and her fantasies centered around the experience of 
losing consciousness, which was described by one of the girls affected as most 
dreadful, and by the other as "wonderful." Closer study revealed that the 
patient had had fears of fainting and dying for quite a while. One episode 
that excited such symptoms occurred when her sister left home with the baby, 
when the baby was about 2 months old. During the preceding weeks the 
patient had taken entire care of the child and had expected to keep it. The 
morning of the departure, the patient's father drove the sister to the station. 
The mother, who was extremely upset by her older daughter's leaving and by 
a previous quarrel with her husband, threatened to run away and kill herself. 


The patient and her brother prevented her from leaving the house. At first 
the mother resisted, then she fainted, and the children carried her to her bed. 
The patient's thoughts were very much concerned with separation, fainting, 
and death. 

The mother reported that the patient had begun to menstruate several 
months previously. She acted rather embarrassed about it and told her 
mother, "That thing is here." 

The mother did not know what she was referring to because, although she 
had prepared the patient for this event, the child had not developed physically 
in any way and the mother did not expect it so soon. The patient went with 
her sister to buy some menstrual pads. On meeting a man on the street, she 
hung her head. In general she acted "disgusted with herself." She has 
never had any pain during her periods, but the mother comments that it 
seems funny to her that the patient always attempts to hide the fact of her 
menses from her. Once she noticed a stain on the sheet and asked the patient 
if she was menstruating. When the child denied it, the mother wondered a 
little whether the 1 2-year old sister might have started to menstruate, but she 
soon realized that the patient had "fibbed" to her. At the onset of her 
menses Molly said: "Anything might happen to me now. I might have a 

The mother thinks that the older sister was too frank about her pregnancy. 
When Molly made the remark quoted above, the sister said to her: "Well, 
you have to live with a man for that." 

The girl replied: "Well, I am living with two men my father and your 

The patient knew all about the birth of her sister's baby. The sister was 
confined at a hospital; she was given twilight sleep, and forceps had to be used. 

The mother occasionally makes references to the father's strictness. He 
will not allow the girls to go out after dark, because of the large number of 
soldiers in the town. There have been two instances of rape, or something of 
the sort, that have got the community all aroused. 

The mother describes the girl's symptoms as a terrible anxiety about leav- 
ing home. Sometimes it is impossible to get her out of her bed, which seems 
to be her favored protection. Sometimes she goes out in the afternoon to 
play with her friends on the street, but she cannot bring herself to leave her 
own block; if faced with the prospect of leaving the immediate neighborhood, 
she has an attack of "shaking." She is fearful of cars and trains. One night 
when the family went to a crowded restaurant, the patient got up and hid in 
the ladies' room. She cannot sleep and lies awake listening to noises and 
imagining that somebody is trying to enter the house. She has fits of weeping 
that come upon her at any time; she daydreams and writes poetry and short 
stories. These are mostly spy and murder mysteries in which she herself, 


thinly disguised, is the heroine. She has eating spells, feeling that eating will 
keep her from fainting, and it is the fear of fainting that constantly haunts 
her. She nibbles her way through the day. The mother has the impression 
that the girl is very jealous of her younger sister. The mother herself is 
"ill"; she is afraid to go out alone and to ride in cars and she once jokingly said 
to the patient: "Well, let's go and die together." 

The mother gives no information about the rights between her husband 
and herself nor about any plans for a separation or divorce. 

We do not intend here to explain in detail the morbid symp- 
toms of this girl. Her attitude toward menstruation was so 
typical that it can be considered normal, although subsequently 
she was stricken by a severe neurosis. Her revulsion and 
embarrassment when she said, 'That thing is here/' her "dis- 
gust with herself/' her tendency to conceal her menstruation 
from her mother every month and even to deny having it, 
as though it were something bad and forbidden, her preference 
for her sister's rather than her mother's help all these mani- 
festations are quite familiar to us. Nancy (p. 63), for instance, 
acted in exactly the same way before she was influenced by her 
psychotherapeutic treatment. Molly's remark at the begin- 
ning of her first menstruation " Anything might happen to 
me now, I might have a baby" represents an idea that fills 
the minds of many girls with expectation and fear. We have 
noted that her reply to her sister's statement, "You have to 
live with a man for that," was, "Well, I am living with two 
men, my father and your husband." This reply expresses a 
fantasy that remains deeply buried in the unconscious in most 
young girls and usually comes to the surface only as a result 
of psychoanalytic treatment. We know little about Molly's 
relations with her parents. The little that we have learned 
from her directly reminds us of Andrea, who wanted to unite 
her parents through her sickness and death. Molly brings 
Nancy to mind also; this girl's older sister also was pregnant 
and later gave birth to a child. We are aware that in 
puberty the tendency to identification is intensified. We see 
this tendency in Molly too: in her fainting spells she identifies 


herself with her schoolmates, in the nature of her symptoms 
with her mother, and in her pregnancy fantasies presumably 
with her older sister. Young girls whose fantasy life is full of 
pregnancy and birth ideas are particularly inclined to identity 
themselves with pregnant women, especially their mothers or 
sisters. If these fantasies are to a considerable extent ac- 
companied by feelings of hatred and by aggressive impulses, 
they result in morbid symptoms and fears of death. The 
girl's life in such a case is, like Molly's, marked by actions of 
avoidance; every shadow of a sexual attempt is felt as a threat 
to which she reacts with anxieties or fainting fits. We are 
particularly interested in Molly's attitude toward death, 
because in young girls' fears we constantly discover a close 
connection between the idea of death and the ideas of pregnancy 
and childbirth. 

Molly's father watched strictly over the chastity of his 
growing daughters, talked a great deal about the danger of 
rape, and warned them against going out alone. The problems 
of pregnancy and childbirth assumed real urgency for Molly, 
because of her sister. She had also heard that women may 
die in labor. All these impressions from the outside can 
mobilize the fantasies and anxieties that fill all young girl's 
minds. With the onset of menstruation, the associative con- 
nection between death and birth is particularly strengthened. 
It is true that outside events contribute to revive this connec- 
tion; but actually it is more elemental, more primitive. It is 
innate in the feminine psyche to bring blood, conception, 
birth, and death into close connection with one another. Some 
authors, basing themselves on folklore and myths, believe 
that it is blood that constitutes the connecting link between 
death and birth. 

For our understanding of subsequent psychologic phenomena 
in the life of woman as the servant of the species, it is important 
to note that the foundations for later experiences are laid in 
puberty and during the first menstruation. If the psychologic 
disposition existing in puberty is accompanied by external 


experiences, these latter can be of paramount importance 
tor the future. For instance, knowing of the death of a woman, 
or even only of her having been in danger of death during 
childbirth, can produce an irreparable traumatic impression 
leading to grave disturbances in the girl's development toward 
motherhood. If the young girl has a strong tendency to 
identify herself with such a woman, all her ideas connected 
with the reproductive function, beginning with the sexual 
act, will be filled with the fear of death. Molly has given 
us an insight into such a fear of death in relation to pregnancy 
and childbirth. She used her neurosis to escape the threat 
of death by avoiding life. 

Fainting fits during puberty express the girl's flight from 
dangers or her passive abandonment of herself to them. Epi- 
leptiform fits express her aggressive motor defense against the 
same dangers, as occurred in the case of Nancy. 

Another 14-year-old girl was stricken with an acute psychosis 
on the second day of her first menses. This girl was brought 
to a psychiatric clinic in Vienna dancing and laughing. Her 
face was covered with rouge, her hair was dishevelled, she 
raised her skirt and used obscene language, constantly repeat- 
ing the word Politik. When she became accessible to treat- 
ment it was found that this German word was for her a compos- 
ite of two other German words Polizei ("police") and dick 
("tat")- These two words symbolized her puberty anxieties. 
Polizei was related to the prohibited and feared idea of pros- 
titution, which in her native country is under police super- 
vision; the second word connoted the danger of pregnancy 
"getting fat." It is difficult to imagine a more graphic repre- 
sentation of the typical anxieties besetting a girl in puberty 
than this composite word. According to her mother, the 
patient had always shown a tendency to solitude and with- 
drawal. However, until the onset of menstruation she was 
tor all practical purposes healthy and attended school regularly, 
so that it was possible to speak of an acute onset of a psychosis 
that later became chronic. Once again the first menstruation 


played the part of agent provocateur-^ it obviously overburdened 
the girl's whole psychologic structure and her limit of tolerance 
was overstepped. 

Every modern physician knows to what extent the function 
of menstruation is subject to psychologic influences, not only 
in puberty but also in later life. The realization that psycho- 
logic factors can express themselves in various menstrual 
disturbances is becoming more and more widespread. 

Many years ago, as a young medical student, I followed with 
great interest a court case concerning a marriage problem. 
A husband had asked for a divorce and as his only reason told 
the court the following story. By profession he was a traveling 
salesman who returned home only at irregular intervals. In 
the preceding two years, he said, every time he returned 
he had found his wife menstruating. In his eyes this was 
sufficient proof that she no longer wished to have marital 
relations with him, even though she assured him in all sincerity 
that it was only a coincidence, a kind of bad luck for which 
she was not responsible. The psychiatrists rejected the 
husband's theory, even though it was already well known that 
menstruation can exert a tremendous influence upon psycho- 
logic life. They were ready to admit that mood changes could 
accelerate or retard menstruation for a short period, but the 
enormous and recurrent influence described to them by the 
husband seemed to these experts impossible. The only person 
ready to accept the husband's interpretation was the old 
judge, who had a keen intuition and a broad knowledge of 
human nature. He granted the divorce, and subsequent 
events proved the husband's theory to be correct. 

Since that time we have learned a great deal about the 
influence of the emotions on the bodily functions in general, 
and about the psychology of menstruation in particular. 
Menstruation is important not only because of its connection 
with puberty and the difficulties of that period, not only 
because it is the expression of sexual maturity and has a special 
relation to reproduction, not only because it is the center of the 


demolition of the climacteric and the psychology of that phase 
of development, but also because it is a bleeding, which mobi- 
lizes many aggressions, ideas of self-destruction, and anxieties. 

Menstrual disorders represent the most important group 
of genital disturbances in women, and the most common. The 
typical, almost "normal" disturbances are amenorrhea, dys- 
menorrhea, menstrual irregularities like the one instanced in 
the court case described above, continuous bleeding, intermit- 
tent and vicarious menstruation, etc. 

We have briefly described a few of these disturbances, chiefly 
in cases in which they arose in connection with the first men- 
struation. Our experience with them is very rich. There is 
scarcely any neurosis, any emotional difficulty, that does not 
provoke a more or less marked reaction of the genital apparatus, 
and this is most strikingly and objectively apparent in the 
monthly bleedings. However, it must not be forgotten that 
menstruation is a biologic process, that possible organic or 
hormonal disturbances must always be taken into account, 
and that treatment of menstrual disturbances must always 
be undertaken in collaboration with a gynecologist. Clinical 
observations of various menstrual disturbances connected 
with psychologic influences have been recorded in numerous 
publications. They come not only from psychoanalysts and 
psychiatrists, but also from investigators who usually attach 
more importance to the organic aspects of the problem. 

In our discussion of the psychology of female puberty we 
have devoted particular attention to the first menstruation. 
We deviated from chronology in our exposition of feminine 
development in order to trace a complete picture of the psychol- 
ogy of the menstrual processes. 

In the course of a woman's lifetime the subjective events 
connected with the first menstruation have a tendency to 
recur at every other menstruation, but normally in a very 
weakened form. Gradually the woman accepts the physio- 
logic process as such, and its psychologic significance recedes 


into the background. As a result of this transformation, the 
memory of the first menstruation often grows dim and some- 
times is subjected to so much repression that there may be 
an amnesia concerning the event. In such cases we are told 
by the subject that her menstruation has always been com- 
pletely normal and that from the very beginning she interpreted 
it as what it really is, a biologic process. Analysis usually 
reveals that such declarations are false and refer not to the 
first menstruation, but to later ones. The manifestations 
accompanying the first experience may be the object of similar 
falsification, for instance with regard to the fact of knowledge 
or surprise, the manner in which the event was communicated 
to the mother or friends, etc. This point is illustrated by 
the behavior of a 26-year-old patient regarding a letter she 
received from a girl friend when she was 16 years old. The 
patient failed to mention a postscript in this letter until the 
analyst brought up the subject of what really happened during 
the first menstruation. This is what the friend wrote: 

You still haven't got it? ... You lucky girl! I am beginning to think 
that you are the only one of us who will not be subjected to it. A. says that 
if with all your strength you want it not to happen, it will not happen, but 
unfortunately this is rare. 

In connection with this postscript, our patient gradually 
recalled that she was the last of her circle of friends to men- 
struate, and that she had been convinced, to her great satis- 
faction, that she never would. When her wish seemed to be 
fulfilled, she grew fearful, because she began to think that she 
would never be loved by a man and would never be able to 
have children. Later, at the age of 17, she at last began to 
menstruate; she was glad of it, but had the feeling that her 
flow was "too sparse and too pale," and that, as a matter of 
fact, she still was different from other women, just as she had 
been before. She preserved this feeling until her pregnancy. 
It is hard to decide whether she originally retarded menstrua- 
tion by her unconscious "will"; but it is certain that during 


her analysis she tried to conceal important data about it by 
unconscious falsifications of her recollections. 

The motive for forgetting and falsifying events relating 
to the first menstruation is the reluctance of women to admit 
that they once gave a deep psychologic meaning to events that 
they have since understood better. "It is a biologic process/' 
they maintain, and do not want to be reminded of the fact 
that it was something else when they were young girls. It is 
natural for people to resist the idea that somatic processes 'have 
psychologic significance. 


Eroticism: the Feminine Woman 

UNDER normal conditions we may expect adolescence 
successfully to complete its specific tasks. One of 
the most important of these is to master the instinctual 
tendencies and to bring them into a harmonious relation with 
the demands of the outside world and the ego. But even under 
the most favorable conditions, this function of adolescence is 
performed only to a limited extent. The "end of adolescence" 
is thus a relative concept, and the phase it represents varies 
greatly .among individuals. Many adolescent features are 
carried over to the years of maturity, and this is especially 
true of women. 

Above all, the young girl's puberty does not seem to fulfil 
one of its biologic tasks: woman's sexual life remains more 
inhibited than man's. We shall discuss the causes of this 
difference in chapter vi; for the time being we shall content 
ourselves with noting that we are confronted here with specific 
biologic and anatomic factors. The effect of these is doubtless 
strengthened by the young girl's education, that is to say, by 
social influences, but their role, however important, remains 
subsidiary. Our understanding of feminine frigidity, which 
has so often been a problem of psychoanalytic investigation, 
can be complete only if we take into consideration the fact that 
there is a constitutional inhibition that has no parallel in men. 

Woman owes many of the most valuable and interesting 
features of her psychic life to the processes connected with 
this inhibition. These are fashioned during adolescence, 
and we have become acquainted with them as normal mani- 
festations of that phase of life. 

One of the consequences of woman's intensification of her 
inner life is, in our opinion, her specific eroticism. 



We have seen that eroticism, which is a direct continuation 
of the young girl's ardent reveries, draws its strength from 
the instinctual force acting in the unconscious. /As a result 
of a process of sublimation, woman's sexuality is more spiritual- 
ized than man's. The need for sublimated eroticism is so 
inherent in the feminine psyche that young girls who deny 
the necessity of a platonic love ideal, and prematurely engage 
in sexual activity, usually react to it with feelings of emptiness 
and disappointment. Because of this experience, they are 
even more prone later to create an unsatisfactory split between 
sexuality and the erotic longing for a love ideal. There are 
many such women who all their lives long for erotic love and 
the experience of the grande passion, even if they are happily 
married and sexually satisfied. 

Normally, women strictly subordinate sensuality to the 
condition of love or longing for love. Sensual fantasy and the 
yearning for fulfillment can for a long time be more satisfactory 
than realization, and more conducive to happiness, and thus 
the adolescent split between eroticism and sexuality is con- 
tinued. The ability gradually to shape the erotic longing 
in such a way that it does not negate the direct experience of 
sexuality, or does not impose too severe erotic conditions, is 
one of the goals of woman's adulthood and sexual maturity. 

This process of sublimation enriches woman's entire erotic 
affective life and makes \t more individually varied than man's, 
but it endangers her capacity for direct sexual gratification. 
The constitutional inhibition of woman's sexuality is all the 
more difficult to overcome because, as a result of sublimation, 
it is more complicated (and the conditions for its gratification 
more exacting) than the primitive desire to get rid of sexual 
tension that more commonly characterizes masculine sexuality. 

We have shown that intensification of narcissism is one of 
the most interesting phenomena of adolescence. We pointed 
out that it protects the young person's ego from feelings of 
weakness during his efforts to master reality, as well as from 
being diffused in identifications, and that it supplies both sexes 


with the capacity for self-observation that is characteristic 
of this period of life. 

In our view the continuation of this function of narcissism 
beyond adolescence is a specific and differentiating trait of 
femininity. "The narcissistic woman" or "feminine narcis- 
sism" has become a kind of byword, often even an insult. 
Thus it seems necessary to discuss this concept. 

Freud's definition of narcissism relates it to the early child- 
hood phase of the ego during which the libido, the emotional 
energy, takes the ego for its object. During the individual's 
entire life, the ego remains the great reservoir of this energy, 
from which emotions are sent out toward outside objects. 
The positive values of narcissism have been noted. Strength 
of character is often connected with it; the greater the narcis- 
sistic self-exactions, self-confidence, and self-respect, the 
stronger the character. Freud 1 ascribes to each person's 
narcissism a great force of attraction for other persons, and 
thinks that feminine charm derives from this self-loving, 
wanting-to-be-loved narcissistic quality. Many people are 
inclined to explain the fact that woman's narcissism is stronger 
than man's on the basis of her mortification over her organic 
genital inferiority, which she expresses by constantly demand- 
ing compensations for her offended self-love. This hypothesis 
also explains why narcissism is lessened in motherhood: through 
the possession of her child woman feels compensated for her 
previous disadvantage, and she can spend her capacity for 
love on others, especially on her child. 

While granting that this explanation contributes to some 
extent to our understanding of feminine narcissism, we do not 
think that it is complete nor even that it takes the most es- 
sential factor into account. In our opinion, the intensification 
or preservation of the narcissism that was strengthened during 
adolescence results from a conflict between definite sexual 
tendencies and that part of the ego which expresses the instinct 

1 FREUD, S.: On narcissism: An introduction. Collected Papers, vol. 4. 


of self-preservation. Since the sexual tendencies of woman 
are directed toward goals that are dangerous for her ego, the 
latter defends itself and strengthens its inner security by 
intensifying its self-love, which then manifests itself as "narcis- 
sism/' Woman's sexual goals are dangerous for her ego be- 
cause they are masochistic in character, and the riddle of 
feminine narcissism can be solved only if we understand 
feminine masochism, the aggressor in the inner conflict. In 
all situations marked by intensified masochistic tendencies, 
the narcissistic protective reaction seems to come into play. 
For this purpose it is taken over from adolescence into woman- 
hood and continues to play a positive role in the psyche. As 
we shall see, most erotic feminine types can be derived from the 
interplay between narcissism and masochism. 

The effects of narcissism vary in women. It may enrich or 
impoverish their psychologic life. In some cases it performs a 
useful function and contributes to psychologic health; in others 
it is a grave pathologic symptom. We shall illustrate these 
variations by a few simple examples taken from Tolstoy's W ar 
and Peace, in which several "narcissistic" women belonging to a 
small social group are depicted. 

For instance, there is Princess Helene, who is in love with 
herself and her beauty. Tolstoy gives a vivid picture of her. 

The princess smiled. She rose with the same unchanging smile with 
which she had first entered the room the smile of a perfectly beautiful 
woman. With a slight rustle of her white dress trimmed with moss and ivy, 
with a gleam of white shoulders, glossy hair, and sparkling diamonds, she 
passed between the men who made way for her, not looking at any of them, 
but smiling on all, as if graciously allowing each the privilege of admiring her 
beautiful figure and shapely shoulders, back, and bosom which in the fashion 
of those days were very much exposed and she seemed to bring the glamor 
of a ballroom with her as she moved toward A. P. Hlne was so lovely that 
she not only did not show any trace of coquetry, but on the contrary even 
appeared shy of her unquestionable and all too victorious beauty. She seemed 
to wish, but to be unable, to diminish its effect. 


The company is listening to a fascinating story. 

All the time the story was being told she sat upright, glancing now at her 
beautiful round arm, altered in its shape by the pressure on the table, now at 
her still more beautiful bosom, on which she readjusted a diamond necklace. 
From time to time she smoothed the folds of her dress, and whenever the 
story produced an effect, she glanced at A. P., at once adopted just the expres- 
sion she saw on the maid of honor's face, and again relapsed into her radiant 

Helene's narcissism is so great that in her infatuation with 
her own beauty she feels the admiration of others as natural and 
even as burdensome. A beautiful woman less narcissistic than 
Helene is more dependent on the reactions of other people, and 
their admiration always arouses the same joy in her, just as 
being loved always arouses joy in a loving woman. Nar- 
cissism is often accompanied by the question mark of insecurity, 
and tensely awaits an affirmative answer from the environment. 
Helene's narcissism has to a large extent freed itself from this 
dependence. Nor does she try to win social approval; her ad- 
justment is so complete that she simply adopts the expression 
of another authoritative person and then relapses into her 
impersonal smile. In love with herself, she cannot love anyone 
else; the joys of motherhood do not tempt her, and marriage 
means to her only social position and money. 

Vera, a minor character in the novel, is still more withdrawn 
from the world in her narcissism. She cannot even produce the 
winning smile that Helene always has in readiness, and the suc- 
cess of which seems natural to her. Even when Vera smiled, 
Tolstoy writes, 

The smile did not enhance her beauty as smiles generally do; on the con- 
trary it gave her an unnatural and therefore unpleasant expression. Vera 
was good-looking, not at all stupid, quick at learning, was well brought up, and 
had a pleasant voice; what she said was true and appropriate; yet . . . the 
handsome Vera, who produced such an irritating and unpleasant effect on 
everyone, smiled and, evidently unmoved by what had been said to her, went 
to the looking glass and arranged her hair and scarf. Looking at her hand- 
some face she seemed to become still colder and calmer. 


While Heine's smile expresses the need for human contact 
and arouses admiration, Vera's smile is a stereotyped mask that 
arouses only irritation. Her own reflection in the mirror is the 
only thing that interests her. 

When Natasha, the character who represents the lovely 
feminine girl, makes her first appearance in society, she is con- 
sumed with the desire to make an impression and to be admired 
and loved by everyone. Her narcissistic need to be loved, and 
her inability to resist ardent wooing even from the "wrong 
man/' lead her to commit the tragic error through which she 
attains full maturity. Natasha's narcissism emanates warmth 
and willingness to return love for love: "Natasha fell in love the 
very moment she entered the ballroom. She was not in love 
with anyone in particular, but with everyone." 

Like all Tolstoy's characters, Natasha is taken from real life. 
Women like her are a living refutation of Freud's assertion 2 that 
a feminine woman does not love but lets herself be loved. 
Feminine love, the core of the "feminine woman," is naturally 
passive-narcissistic. If this love is not pathologically distorted, 
it can be likened to a fire that radiates warmth. One must 
come near to such a fire, sometimes one must even stir it up; but 
it sends out rays of various kinds in many directions, and the 
value of its "passive" achievement is not inferior to that of the 
most "active" love. 

As further traits of femininity we have cited a strong tend- 
ency toward passivity and an intensification of masochism. 
If we replace the expression "turn toward passivity" by "activ- 
ity directed inward," the term "feminine passivity" acquires a 
more vital content, and the ideas of inactivity, emptiness, and 
immobility are eliminated from its connotation. The term 
"activity directed inward" indicates a function, expresses some- 
thing positive, and can satisfy the feminists among us who often 
feel that the term "feminine passivity" has derogatory im- 



"Feminine masochism" follows the same path as "activity 
directed inward." By analogy we can say that woman's 
activity directed inward is parallel to man's intensified activity 
directed outward, and her masochism is parallel to the mascu- 
line aggression that accompanies his activity, particularly at 
the end of adolescence. To reassure the reader, we shall antici- 
pate our discussion of feminine masochism by pointing out that 
it lacks the cruelty, destructive drive, suffering, and pain by 
which masochism manifests itself in perversions and neuroses. 

Before describing our feminine-erotic types, we shall briefly 
outline the fundamental elements of their psychologic structure. 
These are: (i) the instinctual life, which in the teminine woman 
has a passive-masochistic character (later we shall show the 
genesis and development of this instinct formation); (2) the 
narcissistic components of the ego (the nature and development 
of feminine narcissism were dealt with above); (3) the emo- 
tional harbingers of woman's reproductive functions, which 
exist in her before real motherhood occurs. 

The relative weight of each of these elements is influenced by 
each woman's childhood history, especially by the outcome of 
her effort to liberate herself from old objects during adolescence. 
The woman's choice of love objects is to a great extent deter- 
mined by her past emotional ties and her psychologic readiness 
for motherhood. 

A harmonious interplay of the elements defined above charac- 
terizes the feminine woman, whose predominant trait is eroti- 
cism. The form of this eroticism and the ways and means by 
which it achieves its aims give the total personality of each of 
the three feminine types described below their special color. 
What is common to all of these types is facility in identifying 
with man in a manner that is most conducive to the happiness of 
both partners. The narcissistic prerequisite of this identifica- 
tion is psychologic affinity, the similarity of the egos. To the 
woman falls the larger share of the work of adjustment: she 
leaves the initiative to the man and out of her own need re- 
nounces originality, experiencing her own self through identifi- 


cation. Some of these women need to overestimate their 
objects, and their narcissistic method of making the man happy 
can be expressed in the formula, "He is wonderful and I am a 
part of him." 

These women are not only ideal life companions for men; if 
they possess the feminine quality of intuition to a great degree, 
they are ideal collaborators who often inspire their men and are 
themselves happiest in this role. They seem to be easily 5n- 
fluenceable, and adapt themselves to their companions and 
understand them. They are the loveliest and most unaggres- 
sive of helpmates and they want to remain in that role; they do 
not insist on their own rights quite the contrary. They are 
easy to handle in every way if one only loves them. Sexually, 
they are easily excited and rarely frigid; but precisely in the 
sexual field they impose narcissistic conditions that must be 
fulfilled absolutely. They demand love and ardent desire, 
finding in these a satisfying compensation for the renunciation 
of their own active tendencies. 

If gifted in any direction, they preserve the capacity for being 
original and productive, but without entering into competitive 
struggles. They are always willing to renounce their own 
achievements without feeling that they are sacrificing anything 
and they rejoice in the achievements of their companions, which 
they have often inspired. They have an extraordinary need of 
support when engaged in any activity directed outward, but are 
absolutely independent in such thinking and feeling as relate to 
their inner life, that is to say, in their activity directed inward. 
Their capacity for identification is not an expression of inner 
poverty, but of inner wealth. 

Naturally such an attitude involves the danger of masochistic 
subjection and of the loss of one's own personality. If these 
dangers are successfully avoided, we have here the most grati- 
fying type of the "feminine woman." What is fascinating and 
enigmatic in such women is not the part of their personality we 
have just described. The tendency to identification, passive 
reception, masochistic renunciation in favor of others, the effects 


of intuition all these are qualities that we have recognized as 
typical of the "feminine woman." Her fascination lies rather 
in the protective mechanisms she develops to offset the dangers 
mentioned above. These mechanisms are entrusted to the 
narcissistic forces of the psyche, and, paradoxic as this may 
sound, only the effects of these forces endow such women with 
their full personality value. We recall that narcissism performs 
not only a negative function, hostile to the external object. In 
women it serves as an important counterweight to masochism 
and performs a positive function. It plays the part of a guard- 
ian protecting them from passive-masochistic decline. The 
post chosen by this guardian in the psychologic structure deter- 
mines the difference between our first and our second feminine 


The first type of feminine personality is the woman, who, 
when erotically desired and urged, finds it very difficult to re- 
fuse and is easily conquered. Here the guardian obviously has 
not established his post at the entrance door. The gratified 
man feels himself loved, enjoys the woman who psychologically 
and physically gives herself to him, but soon discovers that he 
has received only an insignificant part of her feelings, that he 
is outside a closed door behind which are deeply hidden psy- 
chologic treasures that can be won only with great effort. 

As we see, the harmony of this type is constituted by a defi- 
nite characteristic relationship between the passive-masochistic 
tendencies and feminine narcissism. Behind a protective 
narcissistic wall, severely guarded, there is a strong personality 
and a rich world of inner activity. The gates of the front yard 
often remain open, because this type of woman feels so secure 
behind her protective wall. 

The second type of feminine woman is the woman whose 
narcissistic guardian is posted at the very entrance door to 
her erotic and emotional life. She is difficult to conquer and 
defends her personality both physically and psychologically, 
because she is well aware of the danger of masochistic yielding. 
During the period of preliminary struggles in the attempt to 


win her, she fortifies and secures her position and steers the 
man's love and valuation into the correct channels. Through 
her own identification she solidly ties the man's life to her own. 
After the guardian has been overcome and the outer gates 
opened, all the inner gates too are opened without reservation. 
The narcissistic guardian has seen to it that this woman's per- 
sonality is preserved. From now on her behavior is similar to 
that of the first type of feminine woman. 

The integration of these erotic personalities is evident from 
the fact that they behave in the manner described above not 
only in their erotic life, but also in all other fields. In their 
friendships with women and men and they have many friends, 
thanks to their intuition and their lack of envy, competitive 
feelings, and other forms of aggression they display the same 
harmonious attitude, that is, narcissistic protection of their 
own personalities and passive subordination to others through 
identification. They are distinguished by very great tolerance. 
In their relationship to other people they go beyond the prin- 
ciple that to understand everything is to forgive everything; 
for them, to understand everything is to have nothing to for- 
give. What distinguishes them from many men and women 
of other types is that envy is alien to them and that they 
experience jealousy only to the normal extent of their eroticism. 
Perhaps a particularly favorable mastering of penis envy con- 
tributes to the formation of the personalities of these women. 
At any rate, through love and heightened self-confidence they 
brilliantly succeed in overcoming the "narcissistic mortifica- 
tion" that in the opinion of many psychoanalysts is the result of 
woman's penis envy. Their masochism does not need to seek 
protection in that escape into masculinity to which other types 
of women resort, because it has created for itself a well defended 
position within femininity. I permit myself this conjecture 
with regard to penis envy although I do not consider penis envy 
the main source of feminine narcissism. Nor do I regard envy 
as a specifically feminine quality. 

The woman described here is easily influenced, yet knows 


how to express a quiet but firm veto. If her male companion or 
any other person in her entourage oversteps proper limits in his 
demands by increasing her masochistic burden or running 
counter to her ethical or esthetic needs, she breaks her ties 
despite her devotion and tolerance. 

It seems that these types of women, particularly the first, 
have such a tremendous readiness to give and receive love that 
no disappointment they experience can keep them from even- 
tually entering into a new relationship under the same con- 
ditions of identifying devotion. 

Sometimes they create the impression of being too easily 
accessible. But with experience the psychologic observer 
learns that identical behavior in different people does not al- 
ways have an identical meaning. A popular Latin proverb says: 
Si duae faciunt idem, non est idem. For the psychologist the 
deeper motives are decisive. From this point of view we must 
carefully distinguish the women who "can be easily had" from 
our feminine type. The former, in contrast to the latter, can 
also be easily deserted. 

It is an old truth that has not changed very much, in spite 
of the transformation of our standards, that man's sexual desire 
is intensified if he has to overcome obstacles before achieving 
sexual communion with woman. Just as in prehistoric times, 
women are more gratified when they grant sexual intimacy only 
after a long wooing. In this old and ever new form of relation- 
ship, the two conditions of feminine eroticism are fulfilled the 
masochistic condition, because woman wants to be fought for 
and conquered and awaits her "defeat" in joyful excitation, and 
the narcissistic condition, because this struggle increases man's 
desire, which is so gratifying to woman. Social questions have 
no relation to all this. The psychologic factor rules here, 
independently of the social order; it only changes its form. In 
the Middle Ages, when women were most subjected socially, 
chivalrous love and the knight's humble service of his lady were 
most widespread. And even in the Moslem countries, there 
are, side by side with the easy acquisition of the woman as a 


sexual object, methods of making this conquest difficult in order 
to heighten her value as an object of pleasure. 

In our culture, many women renounce this prize of being con- 
quered for reasons that are often contradictory. The inability 
to say no may express nothing more than an infantile inability 
to give up an immediate pleasure for the sake of a greater but 
delayed one. These women display in all their behavior a 
childishly uncontrolled nature. Another motive may lie in the 
woman's narcissistic hunger, which seeks gratification in a con- 
tinuous series of situations of being desired; still another may 
be the masochistic wish to be humiliated and deserted. The 
urge to break her chains, to be as sexually free as man, to appro- 
priate "a certain amount" of man's active drive, to satisfy 
aggressive impulses in continuous unfaithfulness all these 
motives, emanating from woman's masculine component, lead 
her to uninhibited, "free" erotic activity. Wittels 8 cites as 
examples of such androgynous women the wicked Messalina 
and lovely Helen of Troy. 

The "primitive woman" who yields happily and without con- 
flicts to her sexual desires is as unknown to me as is the "primi- 
tive man." In fiction we sometimes encounter characters who 
approach this type. And yet, upon closer examination, how 
complex is the promiscuous Jaga, for instance, in Ladislas 
Reymont's "The Peasants, and the sexually disreputable, yet so 
motherly Verinea in the novel by Seifulina. 

Experience teaches us that manifestations of a too great 
sexual freedom are not found where there is harmonious femi- 
ninity. They express inner confusion just as much as and 
sometimes even more than excessive abstinence and sexual 
inhibition. Our concept of the normal feminine woman is built 
not upon such manifestations, but on the harmonious interplay 
of various psychologic forces; thus, our type is clearly different 
from types that are similar to it in appearance only. 
The difference between our two types of feminine women can 

WITTELS, F.: Die libidinose Struktur des kriminellen Psychopathen. Internal. 
Ztschr. f. Psychoanal., vol. 23, 1937. 


be great, despite their profound identity. The first type is 
more easily moved, not only erotically, but in all her emotions; 
gentle and tolerant, she makes great demands, but at all times 
is ready to let the object affect her as it is, even sometimes to 
accept it without overestimating it, and to identify herself with 
it. The danger for this woman lies in her masochism; for it 
may happen that her narcissistic guardian is bribed. A definite 
type of man can succeed in this bribing of the guardian; he, too, 
is highly erotic and narcissistic, very aggressive in his ardent 
wooing and his desire. He is so seductive in his will to possess 
completely, and seems to have so much to give, that the woman 
cannot resist him. As such a man is often endowed with great 
gifts and is also able to stimulate and hold the woman's intellec- 
tual interests, he succeeds in weakening her narcissistic self- 
defense, and she becomes the victim of her own masochism. In 
that case, her inner harmony is destroyed; unless she succeeds 
in saving herself and rebuilding her narcissistic wall, she will 
repeatedly experience her masochistic fate, either by remaining 
tied to a man of whom she cannot rid herself, or by changing 
from one aggressive object to another. She becomes neurotic 
and ceases to be a harmonious "feminine woman/' 

The second type of woman is less masochistic but more intol- 
erant; her demands are greater, and she assumes the passive 
feminine role only under definite conditions of far reaching 
narcissistic gratification. The danger for this woman, in con- 
trast to the first type, lies in narcissism. Her excessive demands 
result in impoverishing her object relations and can easily lead 
to frustrations and disappointments. 

Of course the separation between the two types is not always 
sharp. There are many transitional types, and even the pure 
types are for the most part "mixed formations." The modes of 
reaction too diverge from the "typical." How often does the 
sweetest woman, who has behaved in a completely passive- 
feminine way, suddenly assume an aggressive, vindictive 
attitude when she suffers a narcissistic injury. When the 
narcissistic guardian of her erotic masochism fails, masochism 


is transformed into sadism and turns more aggressively against 
her own ego. Suicides of women who have suffered disappoint- 
ments in love usually result not from the loss of the object, but 
from a narcissistic injury. I knew a woman who, because of 
such an injury, wept for many weeks, day and night, mourning 
the loss of a man whom she had devaluated long before and 
whom she had ceased to love, as she well realized. I also had 
the opportunity of studying a gentle and lovely woman who, 
without the slightest conscious trace of love grief, murdered a 
man because he inflicted a narcissistic injury upon her. In the 
course of her trial, which caused a sensation, the prosecution 
looked for political motives, because no one could understand 
the importance of a narcissistic injury to this woman. 

We know numerous feminine types that are psychically 
sound and mature and yet show very adolescent features in 
their behavior. Erotic, strongly emotional, and impulsive 
women regard each relation they leave behind them as a mistake 
and during their full maturity behave like the adolescent girl 
who with each infatuation thinks, "The other man was not the 
right one, this one is." Others display a marked faith in the 
permanence and exclusiveness of their feelings and a desire for 
"eternal love." The narcissistic demand, "Love me exclusively 
and forever," is usually connected with a fear of loss, and in this 
fear lies the source of the masochistic gratification that often 
degenerates into self-tormenting jealousy. Paradoxically, it is 
the same masochistic need that induces an erotically experi- 
enced woman to write to her lover: "Give me insecurity, for it 
alone can give value to my love for you." With many women, 
the feeling of exclusiveness causes anxiety, and they can engage 
in a relationship only if it is understood that both parties are 
free to brush it off when the feeling is no longer mutual. 

The most erotic lovers are often incapable of maintaining a 
harmonious relationship under prosaic, humdrum conditions, 
because for them love is possible only as an ecstasy of admira- 
tion and of being constantly desired. It is hard to satisfy this 
narcissistic need in the grind of everyday life. Strongly erotic 


women refuse to engage in marriages involving a prosaic life, 
if their social position enables them to do so, or they have 
different partners in rapid succession (artists, etc.). Women 
with strong social conscience and great erotic longings break up 
an erotically unsatisfactory relation in a different manner: they 
invent a special ideology for the purpose and declare that a 
sexual companionship that lacks the intensity of erotic experi- 
ence that they demand is immoral and must therefore be given 
up. The same type of women, when they fall into a conflict 
between their maternal duties and their erotic longings, usually 
take the rationalizing attitude that it is better for the children 
to have their parents separated than to live in a "cold, love- 
less" atmosphere. 

In some corner of her heart, every woman has a masochistic 
need to experience the torments of longing and the sufferings 
that deep love can bring. In the same recess there is a narcis- 
sistic wish for great proofs of the partner's love and readiness 
tor self-sacrifice. When Edward of England broadcast to the 
world that he had given up his throne for "the woman I love," 
his words aroused a curious and unforgettable echo in the hearts 
of many women between 16 and 60 years of age. This profes- 
sion of love awakened in them the longing "to be loved." What 
really moved them was the king's announcement of the sacrifice 
he was willing to make for the sake of his beloved. The erotic 
woman wants to have a throne and a crown at her feet, even if 
her lover does not possess them. "But if he had them . . ." 

We have said that the woman's choice of a love object and her 
attitude toward it are also determined by the manner in which 
she coped with her old emotional ties and by the motherly com- 
ponent in her psyche. Our two types choose one of two models : 
the overestimated man, very active and masculine, after the 
pattern of the idealized father, and the promising young man 
who needs to have the woman identify herself with him in order 
to develop his self-confidence. The latter choice is usually 
conditioned by the motherly component of feminine eroticism. 
One thing, however, must be stressed here: the more masochistic 


(in the feminine sense of the term) the woman's instinctual 
tendencies, the farther removed is her erotic ideal from the man 
who needs help or is sick. If the woman's unconscious instinc- 
tually conditioned masochistic attitude coincides with the 
conscious sacrifice of her ego, that is to say, if pity or any form 
of altruism enters into her relationship with the man, she is 
strongly inhibited from being stirred erotically. It can often 
be observed that even the kindest woman of this type must 
make a great effort to suppress her repugnance when her lover 
is ill and needs her care. The motherly-erotic woman can give 
much active help without being diverted from her erotic enthu- 
siasm, but only under certain conditions. She can, for in- 
stance, encourage the continued development of the man in 
the sense of common ideal formation or other interests, pro- 
vided she believes in his strength. In this she completely dif- 
fers from the ambitious woman who demands in an aggressive- 
active manner that her man achieve something and who in 
doing this transfers her own ambition to him. 

These two forms of love choice a daughter relation to a 
father ideal, and a mother relation to a man also have their 
dangers. The former is so tied up with infantile conditions 
that it can easily lead to neurotic complications. Women who 
all their lives remain erotically bound to a man they have had 
to renounce and women who frequently change their love 
objects are often only using two different ways of expressing 
their deep father tie. In contrast to the latter, the female Don 
Juan is more narcissistic; she cannot bear renunciation and 
negates it by changing her love objects "I am loved in spite 
of everything." 

The woman who is harmoniously erotic, who is most "femi- 
nine" and represents the best achievement of her Creator, often 
declares in the evening of her rich and happy love life: "I have 
not always been faithful, but actually I have been in love only 
once." Some crumpled picture in her album or an image in her 
memory represents for her a figure to which in her early youth 
she attached her great yearning and readiness to love, and 


through which she unconsciously preserves her faith to her first 
love object, her father. 

There are two very trivial and fully conscious fantasies of 
the normal young girl that relate to the father. In one he is a 
great man who deserves a better fate, a victim of the prosaic 
mother who has tied him to the gray business of earning a living. 
She, the little daughter, would be a more suitable object for 
him, though he must painfully renounce it. In a large number 
of instances, a psychologically sound woman may have as her 
first love object an object to which she often remains attached 
for life an unfree man, often a married man, who fans her love 
and responds to it, but cannot break his old tie. Such a man 
reproduces the situation described above. The fantasy of his 
painful love yearning and the woman's own suffering, shared 
with him, often prove stronger motives for faithfulness than the 
fulfillment of love. 

The other girlish fantasy that often exerts a great influence 
on woman's erotic life is based on the idea that the father loves 
the mother as a sexual object, but gives his better self, his ideal 
ego, to his daughter. She is the one, she thinks, who under- 
stands him and possesses his soul. The erotic woman who after 
each sexual gratification anxiously asks her beloved, "Do you 
still love me?" is not necessarily moved to do this by her 
education and the existing double standards of morality, 
according to which woman is devalued when she gives herself 
sexually. She is really expressing the little girl's wish to share 
the "better things" with her man, and her own devaluation of 
sexuality. In neurotic women the idea that men make a 
cleavage between ideal and sexual love leads to sexual anxiety 
and inhibition. 

There is another type of adolescent love that continues 
throughout life in some women and that may occur in women 
who are excellently adjusted to reality. For instance, a hap- 
pily married woman who has children and a career, and who is 
in every respect an adult and mature person, is constantly 
entangled in a painfully blissful and pla tonic love for some man 


who is usually a father figure for her, such as her working supe- 
rior, or an important man in a field in which she is interested, 
etc. One woman called this love her "Sunday happiness"; for 
only on Sundays did she have time to indulge in fantasies 
relating to it. 

In Much Ado about Nothing (Act 2, scene i) we find an inter- 
esting illustration of this division of emotional life into everyday 
gratification and Sunday high seriousness. 

DON PEDRO: Will you have me, lady? 

BEATRICE: No, my lord, unless I might have another for working days; 
your grace is too costly to wear every day/' 

The erotic woman's motherliness probably comes to the fore 
to a greater extent when the chosen love object is a young man 
than when he is modeled after her father. But this is not always 
absolutely the case. The growing daughter, especially if there 
is no mother, frequently plays the latter's protective role with 
regard to the father. How she scolds him when he forgets his 
raincoat or deviates from the diet the doctor has prescribed for 
him! And how fond she is of listening to his account of the 
great deeds he has accomplished during the day! Whether he 
is a subordinate employe or a prominent public personage, in 
her eyes he is always an important figure. In the same way, the 
erotic-motherly adult woman listens to her man and tries to 
preserve for herself the illusion of his importance and for him 
the knowledge of her faith in him. She repeats this behavior 
with regard to her son. Both mother and son need to have 
faith in the boy's great future, and the motherly woman knows 
how to give her son this faith. She calms his fear of the tasks 
he has to perform, because she does not demand that he perform 
them. Nor does she devaluate him if he achieves his aims only 
to a modest extent. The erotic-motherly woman has this 
gratifying attitude toward her husband too. 

Elsewhere we shall try to throw more light on the concept of 
motherliness; for the time being we shall confine ourselves to a 
brief definition. The motherly woman in her behavior toward 


her environment reveals the ability to subordinate her indi- 
vidual interests to those of the species. The species is repre- 
sented by the child; but the motherly attitude can be directed 
toward other persons or things. This feeling is very different 
from every other kind of love, even the most "selfless"; in 
erotic women it often contributes substantially toward weaken- 
ing their narcissistic needs in their relations with men. 

We might expect that the erotic-motherly woman would, as a 
result of her constitution, find the best outlet for her feelings in 
motherhood; but this is not always the case. This most 
womanly of all women is the very one who most often en- 
counters difficulties in her motherhood. A conflict arises be- 
tween eroticism and motherliness, a conflict all the more acute 
because eroticism can use many motherly feelings for its own 
purposes and thus compete with real motherhood. Vice versa, 
the woman may direct toward her child such a large part of her 
self-denying, identifying, and masochistic feelings that her 
eroticism is endangered. 

The narcissistic guardian that functions so well with regard 
to the man often fails with regard to the child, and the mother's 
masochistic self-sacrifice becomes a danger for her, and later for 
the child as well. The fact that the most womanly woman, 
with all her wealth of motherly feelings, is often unable to bring 
into the w r orld as many children as she yearns for, probably 
saves her feminine ego. Nor can such a woman, in her relations 
with her children, always create that harmony which she de- 
velops in all other life situations. Her motherhood lacks one 
active ingredient of a definite character a solid, broad, obvious 
motherliness, in which love for her children is more important 
than eroticism and which, in the conflict between motherhood 
and love, decides in favor of the former. For that reason 
and this is regrettable erotic-motherly women are often 
childless or limit themselves to one child. They put too much, 
often their whole rich emotional world, at the disposal of this 
one child. One such woman succeeded, after many years, in 
solving the riddle of why she had had only one child, although 


motherhood was in her eyes the highest value. She had identi- 
fied herself with her child to such an extent that the idea of giv- 
ing birth to another, who would compete with him for her 
motherly love, seemed unbearable to her. This woman was 
experienced and shrewd, and consciously she wanted to protect 
her child from the unfavorable situation of being an only child; 
but unconsciously she yielded to the power of her identification 
with him and remained monogamous as a mother just as she was 
in all her other relations. 

Here a question arises that is asked with monotonous fre- 
quency: Is the feminine woman polygamous or monogamous? 
Let us begin by paying our respects to the social factors involved 
in this question. Human society created monogamy to meet 
the needs of a definite social order and economic organization. 
Monogamy was imposed for the sake of preserving the species, 
because the human child, in contrast to other living creatures, 
needs help and protection for a long time after birth, and some 
form of monogamy upheld by the law seems to offer the best 
guaranty of this protection. Thus monogamy became a law in 
most civilized nations and acquired a compulsory character. 
Whether this institution also has a basis in human nature is a 
psychologic problem. We know women who have grown up in 
social conditions that freed them from monogamy, women who 
freed themselves from its requirements individually, and women 
who, as a result of their passivity, have discarded it under the 
influence of others. Thus we have rich material at our disposal. 
Our impression is that the feminine woman in an overwhelming 
majority of cases is fundamentally monogamous. This monog- 
amy does not necessarily require the exclusiveness of marriage 
or confine sexuality to one object for life. A woman may even 
change her love objects quite frequently; but during each rela- 
tion she is absolutely monogamous and has a conservative need 
to continue the given relation as long as possible. This normal 
behavior presupposes that no disturbing counter tendencies are 
at work. 

The psychologic explanation of this phenomenon seems clear 


We have only to go back a little in the development of the 
woman. Let us recall that we left the pubescent girl in a tri- 
angular situation and expressed the hope that later she would 
dissolve the sexually mixed triangle, a reflection of her bisexu- 
ality, in favor of heterosexual} ty. This formulation was made 
for the sake of simplification. Actually, whether a constitu- 
tional bisexual factor contributes to the creation of such a 
triangle or not, this triangle can never be given up completely. 
The deepest and most ineradicable emotional relations with 
both parents share in its formation. It succeeds another rela- 
tion, even older and more enduring the relation between 
mother and child, which every man or woman preserves from 
his birth to his death. It is erroneous to say that the little girl 
gives up her first mother relation in favor of the father. She 
only gradually draws him into the alliance, develops from the 
mother-child exclusiveness toward the triangular parent-child 
relation and continues the latter, just as she does the former, 
although in a weaker and less elemental form, all her life. Only 
the principal part changes: now the mother, now the father 
plays it. The ineradicability of affective constellations mani- 
fests itself in later repetitions. 

In her relation to her own child, woman repeats her own 
mother-child history, and seeks to continue the regular psy- 
chologic process in a new triangle. 

While waiting for motherhood, even before its beginning, 
woman psychologically prepares for the triangle. Sometimes 
this is expressed directly and consciously in the wish, "I want to 
have a child by him, with him." The role of the man in the 
triangle is here clearly defined from the beginning. At other 
times the wish may be, "I want a child'' and then the man is 
partly moved into the background. The normal feminine 
woman always more or less includes the man, and this not only in 
the physical sense, because the formation of a triangle is a deep 
need for her. This need often asserts itself under the most 
unexpected conditions, and the failure to satisfy it can consider- 
ably disturb her relation to her child. This can be illustrated 


from many cases, but we shall choose only a few very striking 

One is that of a young revolutionary who came from a country 
in which the formula pater tncertus est has become a fundamental 
social convention. This liberal-minded young woman suffered 
from depression. She was psychologically unable to be happy 
as the mother of her beloved child because she could not bear his 
fatherlessness, that is, the absence of the third member of the 
triangle. She herself had been reared in a traditional family and 
it was clear that she had consciously and intellectually liberated 
herself from her old dependence. But in her emotional and 
unconscious life she was a victim of her reactionary repetition 
tendencies. Only experience can show how many generations 
must work to effect a change in such deep-rooted patterns. 

Another example is that of a young woman who tenderly 
loved her husband. As a result of tuberculosis of the testicles, 
the husband became incapable of begetting children, and the 
woman felt extremely disappointed in her longing for mother- 
hood. The couple lived in a country where adoption is out of 
the question. With the full consent of her husband, the 
woman made up her mind to be impregnated by another man, 
but in order to obscure the traces of fatherhood, she had sexual 
relations with two men at the same period, once with each. 
She gave birth to a beautiful, healthy child, but, like our first 
example, collapsed under the feeling that the child's father was 
for her an empty concept. Because of her feelings of guilt 
and her resentment against her husband, she was unable to 
consider him her child's father and accused him of not being 
interested in it. She railed that it was fatherless and that she 
wanted to renounce it. Neither her longed-for pregnancy nor 
the suckling of the child nor all the numerous threads that con- 
nect mother and child could make this motherly woman a 
mother as long as the part of the father in the triangle remained 
unfilled. Only after her own emotional difficulties had been 
overcome, and after she agreed to accept her husband as the 
child's father, could she become a happy mother. 


An even more striking example is offered by the following 
case, that of a woman who was more neurotic. At the age of 
23 she married a man of 43 with whom she had fallen in love. 
The marriage turned out to be a very happy one, although 
during the first six months the couple did not achieve complete 
sexual relations. Immediately after these began, the young 
woman's menses stopped, to the great joy of both herself and 
her husband. In the fourth month of her supposed pregnancy, 
during the summer, she went to the country to stay with a rela- 
tive. There she engaged in a love relation with a young man 
who was a few years younger than she. It was only a passing 
affair, without particular passion on her part or subsequent 
conscious guilt feelings. She thought that this affair had no 
importance at all, as she was pregnant anyhow. Her pregnancy 
created in her the feeling that actually "nothing counted now." 
She returned home from her vacation, and her sexual relations 
with her husband were even more gratifying than before. In 
what she thought was the sixth month of her pregnancy she 
consulted an obstetrician for the first time and to her surprise 
learned that she had really been pregnant for only two months. 
This discovery caused her no concern, nor did it disturb her 
husband; the woman at that time still had no doubt that her 
pregnancy was the result of her intercourse with her husband, 
especially as he had come to see her during her period of sexual 
unfaithfulness. Only after the birth of the child, during the 
suckling period, did it occur to her that the paternity of the 
child was uncertain. At first this was only a fleeting idea that 
came to her while she was looking at the child, whom she wor- 
shiped and to whom she devoted herself with the greatest 
solicitude. Gradually her doubt took a greater and greater 
hold on her, and her joy in her child was overshadowed by the 
tormenting question, "Whose child is it?" By the end of one 
year the child had ceased to be a child for her, and she herself 
had ceased to be a mother. It was now only an object for which 
she mechanically fulfilled the duties of a mother, but to which 
she had no emotional relation, because this relation was dis- 


turbed by her tormenting doubt. Every gesture of the child, 
every smile or cry, was met not by motherly joy or concern, but 
by the question, "From whom did he get that?" To all the 
attempts of her friends to help her overcome this feeling she 
replied: "How can I take any joy in my child when it is father- 
less? A child must have a father." 

After a long psychologic effort the woman resolved emotion- 
ally to accept her husband as her child's father, whether he had 
begotten it or not. With the reconstitution of the triangle she 
was able to accept motherhood. 

Unmarried mothers seem to us particularly suitable as sub- 
jects for the study of the psychologic problem raised here. The 
interesting observations made by Beata Rank 4 and F. Clothier 5 
provide us with fascinating examples that confirm our own 
views. Many of these unmarried mothers, from morbid 
motives, eliminate paternity from the outset and destroy the 
triangle. But those in whom normal motherliness, even though 
under difficult external (and usually also internal) conditions, 
succeeds in asserting itself, clearly reveal the existence of a, 
triangle. The fatherless child, often conceived in conditions 
that really make the father incertus^ has nevertheless a paternal 
"representative" in the mother's fantasy. The power of this 
father proxy can be so great that a real father seems com- 
pletely unimportant. 

The feminine woman manifests this deeply conditioned and 
never mastered triangular situation of childhood in her demand 
that the father be "certain" and this demand makes her 
monogamous. And as every love relation of the feminine 
woman psychically contains the germ of a child, she must secure 
and protect monogamy even when she changes her love objects. 
The fact that the role of the father may be assigned to a man 
who has not begotten the child, does not change anything in the 
psychologic situation, as we have seen in two of our examples. 

4 RANK, B.: Understanding of the unmarried mother. Unpublished manuscript. 
1 CLOTHIER, F.: Psychological implications of unmarried parenthood. Am. J. Ortho- 
psychiat, vol. 13, no. a, 1943. 


Mary, the mother of Jesus, in accordance with the deep 
human need for chastity in motherhood, is represented as hav- 
ing given birth to a child by immaculate conception. But the 
same human need added Joseph to the legend as a father 

We have studied two types of the feminine woman together 
because, despite certain differences, they are closely related to 
each other. There is still a third type that we class with this 
group, although certain additional elements give it the character 
of a borderline type; more concretely, it contains an admixture 
of active drives that we generally ascribe to masculinity. 
Women of this type possess to a high degree the basic valuable 
feminine qualities a passive-erotic attitude toward men, 
intensified inner life, intuition, deepened emotional lite, and a 
tendency to fantasying. But they also manifest other features 
that are absent from typical femininity. Their masochism, for 
instance, has not the relatively pure form of a pleasure function; 
it is accompanied by considerable elements of "moral maso- 
chism." This kind of masochism is much more severe, imperi- 
ous, and aggressive against the woman's own ego than feminine 
masochism and manifests itself in a stronger tendency to 
conscious and unconscious guilt feelings. As a result, the 
moral qualities of this third type of woman are more imposing 
than those of the other two types and she seems more reliable, 
ethically and socially. This difference is sometimes only 

The gamut of individual characterologic differences in our 
purely feminine type is very large. Her warmth and sensitive- 
ness, her nonaggressiveness, and the fact that she seldom pro- 
vokes aggressions in others, create around her a calmer and 
more harmonious atmosphere, decrease her guilt feelings, and 
leave her moral faculties unoccupied, so to speak. But when 
conflicts arise that do mobilize these moral faculties, these 
women often turn out to be relentless toward themselves and 
others. On the other hand, it may occur that feminine women, 
excessively gentle and passive, trust the judgment of others, disa- 


vow their own better intuitive knowledge, or subordinate their 
own value judgments to their erotic needs. 

In our third type the individual differences are less pro- 
nounced, the outline of the total personality is more general and 
uniform. The narcissistic guardian here can afford to be less 
careful, for moral masochism takes over the greatest part of the 
work of psychologic management. In this type too, the basic 
feminine combination of masochism-narcissism is preserved, 
but the two factors have lost their original proportions. Maso- 
chistic passivity is less marked, for the moral ingredient of this 
woman's masochism is more insistent and more active. It 
tolerates the narcissistic element only to a limited extent, and 
chiefly in so far as it heightens self-respect and self-exactions. 
The erotic wish to be loved, which is another aspect of this 
narcissism, is minimized. 

Women of this type love with feminine abandon, but withdraw 
their readiness for erotic abandon in narcissistic pride when their 
demands for reciprocal love are not sufficiently met. In purely 
feminine fashion, they tend toward erotic fantasies and are full 
of longing and romantic expectations, just as the women of the 
other two types. But they are prouder and more intolerant 
toward the objects of their immediate emotional relationships 
and above all toward themselves. Their erotic fantasies easily 
arouse guilt feelings in them, and they often defend themselves 
against such fantasies. This tendency to guilt considerably 
limits their erotic freedom of movement. 

The social anxiety of these women is strong and their sense 
of duty demands that they put their feminine qualities at the 
service of real and social values, rather than of eroticism. They 
are less artistic and esthetic, and their orientation is more 
ethical than is the case in our first two types, although the cul- 
tural level is the same. They are strictly monogamous, not 
only out of an emotional need, but because they follow the 
characterologic commandment of faithfulness. At the same 
time they are extremely sensitive to every suspicion of emo- 
tional unfaithfulness on the part of their lovers or husbands, 


and are as intolerant toward them as they are toward them- 
selves. But this arises less from moral than from feminine- 
narcissistic motives. Their ideal demands with regard to their 
love objects are very great, and they are not inclined to moder- 
ate or adapt these demands through overestimation of the 
object. They are ready to assume a completely feminine be- 
havior, but only on condition that the man's activity and the 
goals of this activity conform to their wishes and expectations. 
In this respect they should not be confused, however, with the 
masculine-ambitious women who demand that their men be 
successful in order to gratify their own ambitions. 

What the type we are describing here expects of her partner 
is not external success, but proof of his strength of character. 
In conflicts between eroticism and values like religion, social 
obligations, and ethical commands they usually in contrast 
to our other types choose the latter. If they choose in favor 
of eroticism, they spoil their love happiness by subsequent guilt 
feelings. Their erotic enthusiasm can be kindled only by 
moral values, and it is destroyed by actions they morally con- 
demn. Their choice of object is usually motivated by the desire 
to complement their own personality, that is, they are ready to 
give up much of their activity drive in favor of the man if his 
own activity in love and work is strong enough to satisfy them. 
They completely reject the passive man who is willing to play 
a subordinate role. These women rarely run the risk of maso- 
chistically submitting to the man's aggression, although their 
sexual interest tends strongly in that direction. Obviously the 
necessary warning signals function in them and protect them 
from this danger. It seems that moral masochism has sufficient 
power to weaken its erotic partner, feminine masochism. 

The love object of such a woman usually has the features of 
the person in whose image she formed her ego ideal. Usually 
this is the father; in families where the mother represented the 
ideal, the ideal is formed after her image and the object is later 
chosen accordingly. Despite a certain danger of homosexuality 
inherent in their type, these women completely avoid it in their 


sexual life. However, they have a marked tendency to strong 
sublimated relationships with other women. 

Women of this type are very motherly, but their motherliness 
is entirely different from that of the other two types. It is of 
the active form that under normal conditions leads to a large 
family, These mothers are usually the center of the home, 
leaving all activity outside the home to the man, on condition 
that they themselves direct the education of the children and 
set the tone of the home. Their feminine intuition usually 
saves them from the matriarchal attitude, which might lead the 
children to devaluate their father in favor of their mother. 
They want to uphold the paternal authority, but in this connec- 
tion they often fall into conflict: they demand that their hus- 
bands display great authority before the children, but at the 
same time they by their own activity unconsciously deprive the 
fathers of authority. In one respect the relation of these 
women to their children is different from that of the other 
types. In the event of a conflict between motherhood and 
eroticism, they usually decide more easily than the others in 
tavor of their children. But they also demand more of their 
children, are more intolerant toward them, and from their earli- 
est years show an anxious concern about the formation of their 
characters. A striking although trivial example of the differ- 
ence between this type and the other two lies in their reactions 
to masturbation in their children. Simple motherly women of 
the feminine-passive type feel, without any need tor the slight- 
est enlightenment, that in masturbation they are confronted 
with a normal process, and intuitively treat this matter as a 
modern educator does. The women of our third type, unless 
intellectually informed, fall into despair, and their intuition 
suffices only to keep them from inflicting harsh punishments. 
By kindly reprimands they develop their children's sense of 
guilt, as a kind of family inheritance. They often spoil their 
own joy in their children by constantly worrying about whether 
they are doing everything they should to give them an educa- 
tion consonant with their ideals. 


In identification processes they differ from the other types in 
that they have a tendency to expect others to identify with 
themselves rather than vice versa. This does not stem from an 
egotistic desire that others adjust themselves to their wishes, 
but only from the moral desire that others should conform to 
their ideal demands. 

Outside their immediate surroundings, to which they are 
attached with strong emotional ties and for which they feel 
responsible, they develop not only all their intuitive qualities 
but also great tolerance. They defend the underdog in society 
and all those who need help, and in their case this is not a reac- 
tion stemming from a repressed aggression. They are really 
and fundamentally ready to help others, because their active 
motherliness extends beyond the circle of their own children. 
Wherever these women are not subject to the tensions of anxiety 
and guilt feelings, they have a real inner capacity for develop- 
ing all feminine and motherly qualities. 

Their erotic freedom is exposed to entirely different dangers 
than that of the previously discussed types: the ascetic ideal of 
these women can effectively inhibit their sexual experience and 
rob them of the erotic joys of which they are perfectly capable. 
We have seen that, in contrast to this type, the previous types 
showed excessive psychologic dependence on eroticism. 

We are inclined to think that the differences between the first 
two and the third type of femininity are to a large extent de- 
termined by the milieu. The feminine-erotic type is more 
frequent in Latin and Slavic countries, while the feminine- 
active-moral type is more characteristic of the Calvinistic 
countries with their tradition of severity. In cases of neurotic 
distortions of the personality or of neuroses, the erotic types are 
more likely to be victims of hysteria, and the moral type of 
obsessional neurosis. Thus we also take constitutional factors 
into account in the construction of these types. Particularly 
as regards our third type, the familial disposition to obsessional 
neurosis plays an important part. But in contradiction to 
their disposition to obsessional neurosis, these women have an 


emotional life that in warmth and capacity for positive unam- 
bivalent relations reminds us rather of normal and hysterical 
women. The obsessional-neurotic elements in their personali- 
ties suggest either a constitutionally fixed substratum or effects 
of environmental influences; however, they are able to develop 
an emotional personality that, to a great extent, is freed from 
this substratum. 

Upon closer examination of all these feminine types, we are 
particularly struck by the usually positive relation of the 
woman to her mother. But this relation seems to have a 
different character in the feminine-passive types than in the 
more active ones. In the latter, it is more like a reaction; it 
follows a phase of aggressive animosity that is very successfully 
overcome. Their excessive tendency to guilt feelings reveals 
their still existing aggressive impulses. The real personality of 
the mother seems here to have had a strong effect. It is usually 
the very active, domineering mother who provokes the hatred 
of the daughter and nourishes strong self-exactions in her. 

The feminine-passive type displays considerably fewer 
reactive features. In this case the original tender, loving, 
and more passive dependence on the mother seems to weather 
all the stormy periods of hatred that must be expected in the 
development of every girl. Many women of this type appear 
to have taken the mother's part against the father's from 
earliest youth. The common grief of being neglected by the 
father, or the premature loss of the father, combined with the 
mother's loving kindness, create an emotional relationship 
with her that involves great dangers. The continuation 
of this early infantile tie to the mother may lead to very 
childish and passive dependence upon her. The tendency 
to definite forms of hysteria, particularly those with organic 
symptoms, is conected with this kind of mother relationship. 8 
Certain forms of homosexuality likewise belong here. 

If the dangers are successfully avoided in the course of 

1 COBB, S.: Borderlines of psychiatry. Harvard University Press, 1943. 


further development, a thoroughly positive relation to the 
mother seems to lead to an ideal outcome; it supplies a con- 
tribution toward and perhaps even a basic condition tor the 
development of the feminine woman. 

Observation seems to show that normal feminine-passive 
women, even in complete adulthood, also reveal certain 
tendencies to infantilism that often manifest themselves in 
body structure, voice, gestures, etc., even where the physio- 
logic functions are normal. In contrast to them, feminine- 
active women are more robust, with larger bones than the 
other types of feminine women, or with a width through the 
pelvis that reminds us of their reproductive function. 

During their depressive moods (to which they have a nor- 
mally human disposition), psychologic contents associated with 
guilt feelings predominate in the feminine-active type; the 
feminine-passive type is more prone to feelings of solitude 
and nostalgia; she prefers to brood and become absorbed in 
herself. A somewhat more obvious remainder of her mother 
tie manifests itself in the form of an intensified urge to eat. 
The compulsive nature of this urge is revealed in frequent 
trips to the ice box or in the consumption of huge quantities 
of sweets, which cannot be replaced by cigarettes, even in 
the case of passionate smokers. These little eating obsessions 
usually remain within normal proportions and can be overcome 
by will power. It is interesting to note that in such cases 
depression seems to coincide with signs of childish longing 
for the mother, the first food giver. 

Although all of them are capable of love, and in most of 
them heterosexual love is a condition of their existence, femi- 
nine-passive-erotic women do not content themselves with love 
alone; they need the ecstasy, sufferings, and bliss of being 
in love. 

The types described above should not be confused with 
others that outwardly resemble them but are essentially 

There are, for example, women who know only being in love 


but not love; in other words, they can experience love only 
as an uncritically overestimating ecstasy of feeling that has 
nothing to do with the real value of the object. Happiness 
here consists in the complete gratification of the unconscious 
determinants of the love relation, rather than in harmonious 
object love with its real overcoming of ambivalence. As soon 
as the ecstasy has passed, the love disappears. What remains 
is indifference or hatred with regard to the man so ardently 
loved before. Partly to escape the guilt feelings connected 
with hatred, partly to make up for the loss, the woman begins 
to devaluate the formerly overestimated object. But for the 
most part this is an automatic process in which all the negative 
feelings and anxieties overcompensated and suppressed by the 
ecstasy now come to the fore. All the former love happiness 
is distorted in memory, and only the seamy side of the relation- 
ship is recalled. The intensive process of overestimating 
infatuation swings in the opposite direction, all the good quali- 
ties of the object are denied, and his defects are tremendously 
exaggerated. The woman who only a short time ago was 
ardently in love feels cheated and disappointed, no matter 
whether her lover deserted her or she deserted him. Closer 
examination shows that this woman loved only a phantom, 
a fictitious ideal to which she temporarily gave a real name. 
After a shorter or longer period she experiences the same love 
enthusiasm for another phantom, and this will suffer the same 
fate. These women are in their behavior like the type who, 
driven by their narcissistic hunger, always want to be ardently 
desired and to experience their object's love ecstasy. Both types 
are incapable of love, but in the latter type of woman it is her 
own need to be in love that gives her the illusion of loving. 
This woman also seems to be much more disturbed in her 
emotional life than the other. 

In striking contrast to this type, our feminine woman, 
despite her longing for the ecstasies of being in love, has a very 
great capacity for real love. In her, unless severe disappoint- 
ments exert a disturbing effect, the acute state of infatuation 


usually passes over into love. She is also capable of repeatedly 
experiencing love ecstasy in relation to her chosen object 
because she loves him provided of course that her erotic condi- 
tions are fulfilled. 

The feminine-active type, even though capable of love 
ectasy, is willing to choose a life companion according to the 
demands of her ego and the objective value of her choice, his 
social position, etc., and she can be happy and satisfied in 
such a partnership. The instinctual wishes that in her case 
are often frustrated are successfully repressed. 

More or less erotic, more or less dependent on love for their 
happiness, the women described here are the prototype of 
femininity as a psychologic concept. They bring this sharply 
defined personality into all their life situations, from sexual 
love to the highest sublimations. We meet these types among 
charwomen, cooks, and nurses, in offices and in the church. 
They are also capable of the most spiritual sublimations. The 
more passive ones completely develop their deepest natures 
when they engage in occupations that give full play to their 
intuition that is to say, artistic and psychologic work. They 
also fulfill their destinies when, silent and in the background, 
they inspire their husbands, always stimulating, encouraging, 
and understanding them. 

The more active ones are, by their psychologic constitution, 
creators and organizers in all the departments of peaceful life. 
Destruction and preparation for destruction is not their 
domain. All these women are valuable if they develop their 
feminine peculiarity in the sense described above. 

They differ among themselves according to their education, 
nationality, religion, race, and the period in which they live. 
But their essential kernel always remains the same. We find 
this type of woman even in prehistoric times as Autonoe, 
the Intuitive One, in whom dwells the feeling of what is right 
and what is wrong, who is wise and understanding even though 
lacking that strength of intellect which is man's instrument for 
acquiring knowledge. 


All these women, in so far as they remain within the normal 
limits of their psychologic structure, show complete sexual 
readiness toward their partners, provided, however, that 
certain definite conditions are fulfilled. Because of their 
passivity, in them more than in any other type the awakening 
of the orgastic response depends largely on the man's ability 
to arouse the existing readiness and overcome the normal 
inhibition. What is in question here is not at all the so fre- 
quently overstressed and even ridiculous demand made upon 
men by several sexologists, that they heighten the woman's 
erotic excitability (in the physical sense) by their dexterity. 
The road to the feminine woman as a sexual object leads 
through the psyche, and all the four fundamental factors 
noted above must be taken into account if her conditions 
are to be met. Her inhibition can be strengthened as a result 
of her narcissism, masochism, tie to former objects, and mother- 
liness; and each of these four factors, if present to an excessive 
degree, can become a source of frigidity. Especially in favor 
of the last-named component does the feminine woman 
often renounce orgastic gratification, without in the least 
suffering in her psychic health. But even if motherliness 
is not involved, she often tolerates her own sexual inhibition 
without losing her all-embracing warmth and harmony. 


Feminine Passivity 

IN OUR preceding discussions we have repeatedly referred 
to woman's passivity and have held it largely responsible 
tor the specifically feminine sublimations and the nature 
of feminine personality. Freud 1 came to question his own 
initial assumption that the "masculine" is identical with 
the "active" and the "feminine" with the "passive." He 
points out that while in the animal world the aggressions that 
initiate the sexual act do usually emanate from the male, in 
some species the male's activity is restricted to copulation, 
and in all the other functions the females are the stronger and 
more active partners. He illustrates his point by citing the 
much discussed behavior of various female spiders that are 
passive in the sexual act, but extremely active in all the other 
processes of life. 

It is interesting to note that man's unconscious considers 
the spider a "masculine female," and in dreams and folklore 
it serves as the symbol of the "phallic" or "masculine" woman. 
This suggests that the connection between "activity" and 
"masculinity" is deeply rooted in our mental life. 

It cannot be denied that the animal world contains examples 
of females that also play an active role in the process of copula- 
tion. To mention only a few: the female of a certain species 
of cricket (Nemobius sy/vestris) is the sole active partner and 
mounts the male, who is stretched out motionless, from the 
rear. (The males of all other Locustidae are, however, extremely 
active.) In several species of butterflies, the male approaches 
the female very actively and takes possession of her in an 
aggressive manner, but after penetration has been effected, 
a complicated position is assumed by the pair, in which the 

1 FREUD, S.: New introductory lectures on psychoanalysis, p. 156. 



male clings passively to the female, who drags him along in 
her flight. 

Among the mammals likewise the activity of the female is 
strongly marked in certain cases. Meisenheimer's book 
Geschlecht und Geschlechter ("Sex and Species") 2 contains 
observations, made in detailed investigations, that frequently 
take note of this activity of the female. Yet the same book 
contains the following passage: "In the processes of copulation 
it is the male animal and its organism that display activity; 
the passive role belongs to the female. Only rarely is this 
relation reversed." Thus, even though the cases of female 
activity are fairly numerous, they are only exceptions to the 
general rule. 

If the sexual "passivity" of the female is generally regarded 
as typical, it still remains to be seen to what extent other, 
nonsexual manifestations of woman's life are patterned after 
this behavior. 

The theory that I have long supported 3 according to which 
feminity is largely associated with passivity and masochism 
has been confirmed in the course of years by clinical observa- 
tions. All my views on this subject are based on clinical ex- 
perience, and daily observations of animals have strengthened 
my conviction that my theory is correct. 

Viewed in retrospect, the evolution of the sexual act seems to 
show that the female's passivity in this act came to the fore 
at the very moment when external fecundation was replaced 
by internal fecundation. But for a long time after that her 
passivity was not identical with her subordination. The 
sexual stimulation came from her, and for a considerable period 
in the evolution of the species the time of copulation was 
determined by the female. Among the higher mammals, the 
male seeks out the female, becomes excited by her proximity 
through his sensory organs, and tries to conquer her. The 

* MEISENHEIMER, J.: Geschlecht und Geschlechter. Jena: Fischer, 1921. 
1 DEUTSCH, H. : The significance of masochism in the mental life of women. Internat. 
J. Psycho- Analysis, vol. 11, 1930. 


female, although bound by evolutionary transformations 
of the sexual stimulation to community with the male, has 
from the earliest times preserved an initial indifference and 
independence with regard to him. At first she flees his wooing, 
and she must gradually be won or overpowered by him. 

In the animal world the rhythm of sexual activity is deter- 
mined by the female. This is most clearly seen in those spe- 
cies in which the male reproductive cells detach themselves 
after the ova are deposited. This feature of sexual lite is pre- 
served up to the highly developed organism of the mammal. 
The ovum fecundated internally before it leaves the mother's 
body enjoys much more favorable conditions of development 
than the ovum fertilized outside, where it is exposed to a 
number of hazards that can easily prove fatal. As the female 
organism does not produce mature eggs continuously, but only 
at definite periods, the sexual activity of the male obviously 
has to depend on these periods. Among the higher animals, 
the female has genital secretions at the time of maturation 
of the ovum. These secretions enhance the sexual impulse 
of the male and his activity designed to conquer the female; 
and it is during these periods and only during these periods 
that she shows herself accessible to the male's desire for sexual 
intercourse. The female's willingness has a passive-receptive 
character, although in this phase she displays all the symptoms 
of heightened excitation and motor agitation. 

In the human species this law still seems to assert itself 
to some extent. Here too the last vestiges of rhythmically 
heightened sexual willingness in woman can be recognized. 
But because of further evolutionary transformations, this old 
rhythm has now almost entirely disappeared in the sexual 
intercourse of men and women. The woman's sexual activity 
no longer follows the stirrings of her own rhythm or the sum- 
mons of the reproductive function. She has obviously subordi- 
nated herself to the sexual will and domination of the male. 
At the same time, the male's sexuality has followed an opposite 
course of development and made itself almost completely 


independent of the female rhythm. How was such a para- 
doxic situation brought about? What factors caused this 
development that is contrary to the old law that the rhythm 
of sexual activity in both sexes is dependent upon maturation 
of the ovum ? 

Our hypothesis is that with the final differentiation of the 
human species, with the displacement of the body's center of 
gravity, the development of the upright posture, and the 
formation of powerful prehensile appendages, the male could 
free himself from his dependence upon the feminine rhythm 
and take sexual possession of the female even without her con- 
sent. It is no exaggeration to say that among all living 
creatures, only man, because of his prehensile appendages, is 
capable of rape in the full meaning of this term that is, sexual 
possession of the female against her will. Every time I see 
one of the numerous pictures in popular movies or magazines 
showing an anthropomorphous ape or a powerful, bearlike 
masculine creature with a completely helpless female in his 
arms, I am reminded of my old favorite speculation: thus it was 
that primitive man took possession of woman and subjected 
her to sexual desire. Interestingly enough, in many myths 
and fantasy formations, brutal possession is interpreted as a 
kindly act of rescue. Thus the ape with his powerful arms, or 
the bear, saves the girl from a threatening disaster that is 
mostly of a sexual nature and the threat comes from someone 
else, not from the rescuer. In young girls' dreams the mighty 
hairy human-animal figure often appears not as a seducer, but 
as a savior from sexual dangers. This metamorphosis of the 
seducer into a savior reveals the wish-fulfilling character of the 
girl's dreams and her masochistic longings, which reproduce 
the situation of the primitive conquered woman. 

We conjecture that the sexual act, which originally was an 
act of violence, and which the woman, weaker and more taxed 
by the reproductive function than the man, could not resist, 
was gradually transformed for her into an act of pleasure. The 
violent penetration and mighty embrace, perhaps accompanied 


by wooing and caresses, thus became the woman's sexual en- 
joyment. Her dependence upon the sexual rhythm was 
broken, and the act of pleasure was separated from the repro- 
ductive function. If further speculation is permissible, I 
should like to advance the hypothesis that the powerful 
embrace of the prehensile arms, combined with the defensive 
counterpressure, induced strong pleasure sensations in the 
woman's entire body. The particular disposition in the femi- 
nine skin surface to be pleasurably excited perhaps originates 
in these primitive situations. The psychoanalytic hypothesis 
that this quality of woman's skin can be explained by the 
anatomic sex difference, and corresponds to a transfer from the 
unsatisfactory genitals to the entire body, does not necessarily 
contradict my hypothesis. The latter is beautifully illustrated 
in the Greek myth of the seduction of Leda by Zeus. The 
story of the god who assumes the shape of a swan and envelops 
the woman with his plumage seems to express the feminine 
wish to feel the seducer's might with the whole surface of 
her body. 

If myphylogenetic hypo thesis is correct, the wooing and posses- 
sion of the human female involved the surface of her body be- 
fore her genital zone came into play, while the male was already 
in a state of definite genital excitation that drove him to active 
or aggressive behavior. This very ancient development seems 
to me to be the prototype of a definite sexual sensitivity that 
has persisted to this day. The stronger need for tenderness 
characteristic of the woman, her need for the embrace as a 
prelude or even a prerequisite to sexual excitement, would 
according to this view be a primitive feminine quality, perhaps 
a continuation of the primitive situation. Her more developed 
desire for contact has a thoroughly passive character that also 
plays a part in the differentiation of the sexes. 

This behavior is repeated in the functions of the sexual 
cells: the ovum is relatively motionless, passively expectant, 
while the spermatozoid is active and mobile. The behavior 
of the sexual partners during intercourse continues this dit- 


ferentiation between the masculine-active and the feminine- 
passive. The anatomy of the sex organs leaves no doubt as 
to the character of their aims: the masculine organ is made 
for active penetration, the feminine for passive reception. The 
objection that many and even most normal women develop 
a high degree of activity during sexual intercourse does not 
refute the view presented here. There are facts that seemingly 
contradict the natural law but are nevertheless of great signifi- 
cance. They are secondary forms of behavior, for the most 
part psychologically determined. Woman's protest against her 
passive role and her tendency to identification may play a part 
in this active behavior. 

So far, physiology and anatomy support our view. Our 
further task will be to ascertain to what extent this organic dis- 
position expresses itself in the total psychologic picture of the 
feminine personality. Up until this point, our attempt to defend 
the view that femininity is characterized by passivity related 
only to the sexual functions. It might be sufficient to point 
out here that psychoanalysis has demonstrated the great 
influence that sexuality exerts on all other manifestations of 
life; but actually this theory has never denied the fact that all 
psychic phenomena are influenced by education, the social 
order, cultural conditions, and similar factors. Nor must 
it be forgotten that, in addition to the sexual drives, psycho- 
analysis takes into account other important psychic forces 
whose power often proves greater and more decisive than 
that of sexuality. For instance, the analytic interpretation 
of neurotic conflicts is based on the assumption of factors that 
directly oppose the drives of sexuality and so create conflicts. 
In its investigations of human psychology, psychoanalysis 
has never ignored the interaction of the psychic, inner forces, 
nor has it failed to note the constant interplay between the 
outer and the inner world. 

Nevertheless, while fully recognizing that woman's position 
is subjected to external influences, I venture to say that the 
fundamental identities "feminine-passive" and "masculine- 


active" assert themselves in all known cultures and races, in 
various forms and various quantitative proportions. Marga- 
ret Mead's interesting anthropologic study 4 of a primitive tribe 
in which women play an active and aggressive role, while men 
perform social functions regarded elsewhere as feminine, seems 
to prove no more than does the sexual behavior of several ani- 
mal species in which the roles of the partners are reversed. 
Such exceptions cannot change the general principle; and we 
can assume that this principle will continue to assert itself 
until we succeed in influencing the internal, hormonal constitu- 
tion of the human body. But even then the anatomy of the 
sexes, which is surely less subject to modification, will exercise 
its veto. The reproductive function too will have to undergo 
radical transformations before entirely new paths are opened 
to feminine activity. 

Experimental data collected by psychoanalysts show that 
very often woman resists this characteristic given her by 
nature and, in spite of certain advantages she derives from it, 
displays many modes of behavior that suggest that she is not 
entirely content with her own constitution. Our task will 
be to find out how woman's personality develops against this 
constitutional background and what ways and means she 
has at her disposal to preserve her feminine nature and, at 
the same time, to ward off and master the dangers for the 
ego that are inherent in passivity and masochism. 

We have seen that the feminine woman finds these means 
in her own ego. We have also found that passivity, while 
it is the central attribute of femininity, is a relative concept. 
Many active tendencies can accompany this passivity and 
this does not contradict our conception of the feminine woman. 
Only if the methods of coping with passivity that we see used 
by our feminine women proves unsuccessful, does woman's 

4 MEAD, M.: Sex and temperament in three primitive societies. New York: Mor- 
row, 1935. 


dissatisfaction with her own constitution come to the fore. 
The expression of this dissatisfaction, combined with attempts 
to remedy it, result in woman's "masculinity complex/' 

For a long time psychoanalytic research made this masculin- 
ity complex responsible for many typical manifestations of 
femininity, and as a result the independent significance of 
many of woman's psychologic processes was denied. Her 
positive achievements were usually interpreted as a successful 
sublimation of tendencies contained in this complex, while a 
number of her neurotic conflicts and specific traits of feminine 
character were believed to result from her lack of a penis. 

There is no doubt that penis envy exists in woman's psyche 
and has a great influence on the development of her personality. 
But the theory that makes penis envy the basis of her most 
essential conflicts is untenable. Penis envy is generally 
ascribed to the reaction experienced by the little girl when 
she first sees the masculine organ; even a priori it seems un- 
likely that a trauma of external and accidental origin should 
play a fundamental part in the formation of feminine personal- 
ity. As we shall see later, penis envy is not a primary factor, 
but a secondary one; it is essentially due not to external but to 
internal developments; and if we did not realize this before, 
it is because we mistook the rationalization of the genital 
trauma for the trauma itself. 6 

While the importance of penis envy cannot be denied, a full 
understanding of woman's passivity can be obtained only 
from an investigation of the development of her sexual in- 
stincts and her ego. We shall now take up the first part of this 
task and study passivity as a result of the girl's instinctual 
development in so far as it is determined by her anatomy. 
In doing this, we must first of all keep in mind that at all 
periods of the child's development, when one kind of gratifica- 
tion is given up it is always compensated by another. For 
instance, when the child gives up the oral gratification of the 

According to E. Jones, "the sight of the boy's penis is not the sole traumatic event 
that changes her life; it is only the last link in along chain": Papers on Psycho- 
analysis. London: Bailliere, 1938, p. 615. 


nursing period, the mother (or whoever takes her place) 
associates the new method of feeding with the tenderness 
formerly connected with breast feeding, and the pleasure of 
being suckled is replaced by that of sucking. In addition, 
the child now derives pleasure from its excretory functions. 
During this period, the child's ego grows and his interests 
are not limited to the gratification of his sexual instincts. New 
sources of pleasure are available the active conquest of the 
outside world in all its forms, new relations to objects, etc. 
Thus we see that the possibilities of gratification have two 
sources direct instinctual satisfaction and the child's relation- 
ship to the environment, a relationship that grows gradually 
more independent of the sexual instincts. 

The last or phallic phase of the little boy's sexual de- 
velopment is concentrated around an organ whose full activ- 
ity he can enjoy until fears and prohibitions compel him to 
renounce his pleasure in it. The immense importance of the 
fear of castration in man results from his high valuation of his 
own genital organ. It must not be supposed that this valua- 
tion has a purely narcissistic origin. It is the dynamic energy, 
the physiologically conditioned urge that manifests itself in 
masturbation, that endows this organ with its importance and 
makes it the focus of the little boy's interests and fears. This 
urge has not only an active character; it also contains more 
elementary infantile aggressive tendencies. These express 
themselves in the boy's entire personality during this period. 
His pugnacity, which in the eyes of the grown-up observer is 
a troublesome, perfectly useless activity, is an expression 
of this aggressive need, in the gratification of which the healthy 
normal boy feels happiest. By and by he can transfer his 
activity and aggression to other forces within him. The 
drive for adjustment to reality, active sublimation, and the 
growth of his ego will now engross him for several years. He 
needs no compensation for his loss of gratification, because 
he has new possibilities of gratification in other fields. 

But how about the girl? She too as a result of her height- 
ened genital urge needs an organ in which this urge can be 
focused. The clitoris is the only part of her genital apparatus 


available for this purpose. Hence in girls the phallic phase 
is also called the "clitoris phase/' We can disregard here the 
common embryonic origin of this organ and the penis; its 
anatomic structure, tumescent character, innervation, and 
erectility make the clitoris an organ comparable to the penis. 
The comparison must naturally prove unfavorable to the 
clitoris, because this organ lacks the forward thrusting, pene- 
trating qualities of the penis. 

It might be assumed that either the little girl's sexual excit- 
ability is from the outset less active and intensive than the 
boy's, or that she has an inferior organ with which to attain 
the same instinctual goals. Actually it seems that both these 
assumptions are correct and that two factors are at play in 
the girl's sexual development: on the one hand, her in- 
stincts are constitutionally less active and aggressive than the 
boy's; on the other hand, psychoanalysis has discovered a 
sufficient amount of active-aggressive components in the little 
girl's fantasy life to support the view that her genital organ 
is an inadequate outlet for them. Although in some cases this 
organ can be touched and seen, its development is often so 
rudimentary that it can barely be considered an organ. As 
a result, the little girl is frequently "organless" in the phallic 
(clitoris) phase of her development. But even girls in whom 
the clitoris is more developed go through a period of rising 
and actively directed instinctual energy for which this organ 
can only prove inadequate. This inadequacy is probably 
one of the motives that induce little girls to give up masturba- 
tion during the clitoris period of their childhood. The asser- 
tion they so frequently make at this period, that they once 
had a penis, stems now from sources other than the later lying 
boasts: although it is based on a false inference, the feeling 
behind it is real. According to many mothers who are good 
observers of their children, the transfer of the alleged poses- 
sion to the past appears as a rule after the little girl has 
given up masturbation. Her obscure memories of the clitoris 
activity during the masturbation period seem to lead her subse- 


quently to endow the clitoris with the reality value of an ade- 
quate organ that existed in the past. 6 

We feel compelled to assume that this real inability of the 
organ to gratify the active and aggressive instinctual impulses 
must entail important consequences. In the first place and 
this is in contrast with the boy's behavior those impulses 
that need an active organ are given up. Thus the inadequacy 
of the organ can be considered a biologic and physiologic 
cause of the psychologic sex differences. If this is so, we are 
dealing here with a normal occurrence, and we should expect 
that its consequences follow a biologically predetermined path 
that leads to the further development of femininity. However, 
the clinical material at our disposal shows that this path 
is in reality extremely circuitous. While in the preceding 
phases, when one method of instinctual gratification fails, it is 
automatically replaced by another, this time the process is 
attended by many complications, and to understand it one 
must follow it from the beginning. The consequences of the 
inhibition that now takes place in the operation of the actively 
directed instincts may be twofold. One consequence is the 
attempt to overcome the inhibition, an attempt attended by 
all the reactions that lie within the framework of the female 
castration complex (p. 317). The other is to be found in the line 
of normal feminine development that is in accordance with 
the girl's constitutional predisposition, that is to say, the 
inhibited activity undergoes a turn toward passivity. The 
place of the active organ is taken by a passive-receptive one, 
the vagina. This process does take place, but later; and the 
aggravating and portentous element in the process is that 
between the turn to passivity and the full availibility of the 
corresponding organ a long period of time elapses, during 
which the little girl does not have this organ at her disposal 
at this moment of development it is simply not there! Thus 
the little girl is for the second time confronted with organless- 

Rado's "illusory penis" seems to stem from this fantasy. Psychoanalyt. Quart., 
vol. 2, 1933. 


ness: the first time she lacked an active organ, now she lacks 
a passive organ. It is only these two events together that 
produce her genital trauma. As we have seen, the conse- 
quences of the first may be the manifestations of the castration 
complex. We regard as the consequences of the second the 
mobilization of regressive tendencies. The little girl's feminine 
fantasies are centered on other passive organs: the anal and 
oral components of the sexual instincts reappear. 7 The 
anxieties and fantasies relating to childbirth and all other 
sexual contents are tied up with alimentary and excretory 
functions; they accompany woman into her adult years and 
often give rise to hysterical somatic symptoms connected with 
these functions. The vagina a completely passive, receptive 
organ awaits an active agent to become a functioning excit- 
able organ. 

In the psychologic material gathered from the analyses of 
adult women, particularly neurotic ones, we find repeated 
expressions of the lack of an organ, feelings of inferiority, etc. 
According to my present view, the assumption that these com- 
plaints result from the lack of a penis is one-sided. Their real 
origin is the fact that during a period of biologic development 
in which the inadequacy of an organ leads to a constitutionally 
predetermined transformation of the active tendencies into 
passive ones, no ready organ exists for the latter in other 
words, the little girl continues to be organless in a functional 
sense. Her genital trauma, with its numerous consequent 
manifestations, lies between the Scylla of having no penis 
and the Charybdis of lacking the responsiveness of the vagina. 

One might keep faith in the purposefulness of nature and 
find a deeper meaning in the fact that among the developmental 
processes in the girl something takes place that looks like a 
short circuit. Logically these processes should result in the 
functional readiness of the vagina to intercept the sexual 
stimulations and thus prepare the feminine organ for its 

7 DEUTSCH, H.: Psychoanalyse der wciblichcn Sexualfunktionen. 


future functions. But, as we have seen, this is not the case. 
True, several authors support the view that the vagina shows 
itself even in childhood. Josine Mueller, 8 for instance, re- 
ports from her practice some cases of obvious vaginal activity 
in children. 

According to K. Horney, 9 our failure to perceive the exist- 
ence of the vagina in childhood more clearly is due to a negation 
and repression of it. She assumes that vaginal sensations 
and psychologic contents relating to them exist in childhood. 
It is undeniable that fantasies of masochistic-passive character 
appear at an early age, and, as Melanie Klein has pointed 
out, 10 they are characterized by particular cruelty. Dismem- 
berment of the "insides" through the penetration of a gigantic 
body and through the expulsion of a child are often tound 
in the little girl's fantasy life. But I believe that such ideas 
have nothing to do with vaginal sensations. They refer to the 
internal organs of the body, that is to say, the stomach and 
intestines, and the paths of penetration and expulsion are 
represented by the mouth and the anus. The cruelty of these 
fantasies corresponds to the strength of the aggressions directed 
inward. Thus, what seems to be in preparation for later 
femininity during the childhood phase is passivity and maso- 
chism; what is added subsequently, if the development is 
favorable, is their correct elaboration and the discovery of the 
vagina as a functioning organ. 

I should like to clarify my theory that the vagina is not a 
functioning sexual organ in childhood by an example that 
shows that when the tension of a need is felt in an organ, 
even in an organ whose goals are passive and receptive, ar- 
rangements are made for gratifying this need. I refer to the 
child's oral needs, and I have in mind not only suckling. It 
can be observed that children whose oral needs are not suf- 

8 MUELLER, J.: A contribution to the problem of libidinal development of the genital 

phase in girls. Internat. J. Psycho-Analysis, vol. 13, 1932. 

9 HORNBY, K.: The denial of the vagina. Internat. J. Psycho-Analysis, vol. 14, 1933. 
10 KLEIN, M.: The psychoanalysis of children. London: Hogarth, 1932. 


ficiently gratified stick everything into their mouths often 
in a frantic fashion whether they are hungry or not. Such 
a child, if satiated, will vigorously protest against taking any 
more food and yet will put in its mouth a pacifier, nipple, or 
any other object. It is generally known that children who are 
deprived of this sucking gratification are disturbed in their 
sleep. The association of this urge with the pleasure of eating 
is not the chief cause of its persistence. The newborn child 
sticks its fingers in its mouth before being fed, and the restless- 
ness of babies upon awakening can for some time be eliminated 
only by sucking. Personal observation has made me suspect 
that our patients' reproaches against their mothers, and their 
feelings of having been injured that go back to the period 
of weaning, do not always and not solely relate to the with- 
drawal of their mothers' milk-giving breasts. Children who 
because of educational prejudices were consistently kept from 
sucking are particularly prone to develop a reaction to this 
deprivation that lasts a long time. The analogy of the mouth 
is all the more valid because the subsequent sucking-receptive 
function of the vagina strongly resembles that of the mouth. 
Although we see in the child reactions to the deprivation of 
sucking, we find no sign of an analogous vaginal urge sufficient 
to drive the little girl to actions such as sticking objects into 
her vagina, etc. From time to time we observe manifesta- 
tions that seem to imply vaginal sensations manipulations 
with the hand, even impulsive sticking of objects into the 
genitals, etc. But a careful study of these observations shows 
that all such actions have nothing in common with spontaneous 
vaginal sensations and that their causes are usually external: 
worms, catarrh of the bladder, washing procedures, or direct 
seduction. Acute irritations of the posterior vaginal wall 
through the anus, as a result of constipation and enemas, 
are often mistaken for vaginal irritations. 11 

11 DEUTSCH, H.: Op. cit. I am greatly indebted to Dr. F. Clothier, of the New England 
Home for Little Wanderers, for her kindness in putting her own observations of 
a large number of children at my disposal. These show that excessive vaginal 
masturbation in little girls is almost always the result of a previous seduction. 


A further proof that the vagina has no independent function 
during childhood is the fact that even when the little girl's 
passive-masochistic tendencies assert themselves in masturba- 
tory activities, these remain tied to the clitoris. I am able 
absolutely to confirm Fenichel's observations 12 on this score. 
It is as though the clitoris offered its services to the feminine 
tendencies after having failed to serve the active tendencies. 
In many women the clitoris retains this function throughout 
lite, and very frequently the childish masturbation of the 
clitoris turns out to be particularly important. If the little 
girl renounced every sexual function as a result of her double 
organlessness during the period of excitation, she would be 
exposed to the danger of losing her capacity for obtaining any 
sexual gratification the danger of aphanisis, as E. Jones has 
called it. 18 

The awakening of the vagina to full sexual functioning is 
entirely dependent upon the man's activity; and this absence 
of spontaneous vaginal activity constitutes the physiologic 
background of feminine passivity. The competition of the 
clitoris, which intercepts the excitations unable to reach the 
vagina, and the genital trauma then create the dispositional 
basis of a permanent sexual inhibition, i.e., frigidity. 14 It is 
this disposition acquired in childhood that is responsible for 
the very large number of frigid women. It goes without saying 
that overcoming of the inhibition depends upon subsequent 
psychic events and especially upon the events of puberty. 
For instance, a neurotic illness is often responsible for a given 
woman's inability to overcome her predisposition to frigidity. 
On the other hand, one can see even extremely severe neuroses 
that do not diminish potential sexual sensitiveness; inversely, 
they are psychically healthy women who have not been able 
to overcome their sexual inhibition but tolerate it well. 15 

"FBNICHEL, O.: Weiteres zur preoedipalen Phase der Madchen. Internat. Ztschr. f. 

Psychoanal., vol. 22, 1934. 
18 JONES, E.: Early development of female sexuality. Papers on psychoanalysis, p. 


14 DBUTSCH, H.: The significance of masochism in the mental life of women. 
16 IDEM: Psychoanalyse der weiblichen Sexualfunktionen. 


Very often in such cases the sexual energy is diverted to the 
reproductive functions, and motherliness fully takes the place 
of sexuality. That the social restrictions upon feminine sexual- 
ity can intensify the dispositional inhibition is indisputable. 

We can now leave the problem involved in the origin of 
feminine passivity and turn to another connected with it, 
namely, penis envy and its consequences. But as we do not 
intend to place upon it all the responsibility for the girl's 
feelings of envy, we must go back a little farther. 

I believe that every child, boy or girl, whatever its situation 
in the family, whether loved and pampered or neglected and 
unappreciated, an only child or one among many, reacts with 
great envy to the birth of a brother or sister. It envies every- 
thing: what the new child has and what it has not. The little 
boy does not notice that he has an advantage over his little 
sister. If he is sufficiently advanced in his development, this 
discovery arouses his fear, because he is already involved in 
genital anxiety. If he is still little and interested in the uri- 
nary function, he notices that the new child lacks something; he 
reacts with interest to this discovery, but his principal feeling 
is that of envy over the love, care, food, etc., enjoyed by the 
newcomer. The birth of a rival makes him experience a new 
feeling or strengthens an old one. According to his develop- 
ment, his envy has an oral character and bears upon the ali- 
mentary processes or refers chiefly to the excretory functions 
and cleansing procedures. 

The little girl's envy likewise is excited by rivalry, and, just 
as in the case of the boy, this envy bears upon everything the 
new child receives, whether she herself has the same or not. 
There are also adults who envy others regardless of their own 
possessions. When the little girl is still very young, she is not 
very much impressed by her little brother's penis. She is more 
interested in his excretory processes and often herself begins to 
behave like a baby in this respect, in order to be like the little 
intruder. She is jealous over the physical care given him, or 
else she feels terribly offended because her mother fails to ap- 


preciate her merit in being clean and loves the dirty little one 
just as much as herself. Out of revenge she soils herself and 
may tor the rest of her life retain something of this reaction 
"it is not worth while being good and trying to earn praise, for 
one is not appreciated anyhow." 

Out of this general tendency to envy, the little girl may 
develop a penis envy even if she regards the possession of the 
penis as an inferiority of the newborn baby; and this happens 
quite frequently. I once had a case of perversion a woman 
who could be sexually aroused only by humpbacked men that 
involved just such an evaluation of the penis as an abnormality. 
Little girls, especially if they had no brothers before, often say: 
"Oh, I had this thing, too," or "I have one, 'too." In this 
they are conscious pseudologists who out of pride refuse to 
admit that they do not possess something. Many girls imagine 
that all babies have something like a penis when they are little 
and do not need it any more when they grow older. This view 
is very popular and is sometimes used as self-consolation when 
envy is aroused. On the other hand we can observe that little 
girls from whom we do not yet expect any real genital interest 
display symptoms of violent penis envy. They reach out for 
the organ of a brother or playmate and with great feeling express 
the wish to take it away from him. Such a wish is an expression 
of envy, but it has not yet the significance that it will acquire 
later in the girl's development; it only expresses an envious 
desire for possession common to all children and extending to 
everything they see in others and do not have themselves. It 
is true, however, that even at this stage early characterologic 
differences can be noted in children. These early envy reac- 
tions partly determine how the girl will react to the genital 
trauma later, in the clitoris phase. As for the characterologic 
reaction, it will depend to a great extent upon the influences of 
the environment, above all upon the kind of preparations made 
for the expected new child, the home atmosphere, the mother's 
behavior toward the child, etc. In short, the influence of the 
environment on character formation has achieved its effect 


before the new impressions begin to operate. And it must not 
be forgotten that every child is born with a specific charactero- 
logic disposition. 

The child's tendency to envy also expresses itself independ- 
ently of the birth of a new sister or brother. An only child 
manifests envy every time the interest of the persons around it, 
especially the mother, seems diverted from the child to some- 
thing else. We do not intend here to analyze in detail the 
psychologic differences between an only child and a child that 
has brothers or sisters. We desire only to stress that envy as a 
characterologic property of children of both sexes manifests 
itself at a very early stage, regardless of the presence or absence 
of brothers or sisters, and independently of the genital interest. 

The anatomic difference becomes significant only in that 
phase of the girl's development in which her genitals (that is to 
say, her clitoris) assume functional importance. I recall an 
observation of many years ago that was later confirmed by 
Jones, 16 Rado, 17 and Lampl-de Groot. 18 An i8-month-old girl 
displayed complete indifference at sight of the penis; only later, 
in the period of heightened interest in her own genitals, did she 
develop a strong emotional reaction to the phenomenon. I 
reiterate my view that in this phase processes with a traumatic 
effect take place in the girl regardless of whether outside im- 
pressions have produced a real basis for the development of 
penis envy or not. 

These internal processes create in the girl a heightened inter- 
est in her own and other people's genitals. She encounters two 
types of reactions in the outside world first the prohibition of 
her mother, who is particularly alert during this period, then 
the actions of her brother, cousin, or little neighbor who wants 
to see and above all to show. In this way the girl discovers the 
difference and, as a result, develops reactions whose intensity 
and effect will depend on previously existing factors. These 

18 JONES, E.t Papers on psychoanalysis, p. 562. 

17 RADO, S.: Fear of castration in women. Psychoanalyt. Quart. 2: 425, 1933. 

18 LAMPL-DE GROOT, J.: The evolution of the Oedipus complex in women. Internat. 

J. Psycho-Analysis 9: 332, 1928. 


are on the one hand her characterologic development, especially 
her disposition to envy, and, on the other, the strength of the 
genital trauma, which in turn depends upon the strength of the 
sexual urge, masturbatory processes, etc. Penis envy and its 
consequences develop in the soil thus prepared. 

But the process may also have an opposite sequence. The 
perception of the anatomic difference between the sexes may 
heighten the girl's interest in her own genitals and induce her to 
exciting investigations of it. The excitement in this case has 
been prepared by internal instinctual processes but is provoked 
from the outside, and thus from the outset appears connected 
with penis envy. 

Later the sequence of events is blurred, and in the analysis of 
adults it is impossible to separate the primary genital trauma 
from penis envy. I believe that this chronologic confusion is 
responsible for the mistaken theory that the difficulties of 
woman's development are caused by her penis envy. This 
theory displaces the emphasis from a constitutional difficulty 
of development to a secondary affective and characterologic 
reaction to it. 

Let us briefly recapitulate our analyses. In her instinctual 
development the little girl encounters a difficulty. This diffi- 
culty may either have general, normal consequences, or lead to 
more individual or abnormal reactions. We have discussed the 
former: they contribute to normal feminine passivity and, as 
we shall see later, to masochism. The latter can have a disturb- 
ing character and are an indication that the difficulty was not 
mastered and had a really traumatic effect. These traumatic 
reactions are extremely varied, and we designate them collec- 
tively as the female castration complex. Penis envy plays an 
important part in it as one of the forms in which the trauma 
manifests itself; sometimes this envy provokes the trauma, but 
it is never the primary cause of it. The girl's discovery of her 
anatomic difference from the boy is for her the confirmation of a 
lack that she has previously felt herself its rationalization, so 
to speak. She gives an internal process real content by project- 


ing it in the outside world. "Such an organ does exist/' she 
seems to think/' so I am right in feeling the lack of it!" Penis 
envy will depend, as we have said, upon the girl's charactero- 
logic disposition and upon the other conditions outlined above. 
We have also admitted the possibility of a reverse sequence. 

Thus the inner conflict is projected into reality and, as a re- 
sult, all the later reactions seem to be caused exclusively by the 
real discovery of the penis. We are familiar with such rational- 
izations from many other psychologic situations. Probably 
the discovery of the penis has intensifying and consolidating 
effects; at any rate it is a real experience and provokes mani- 
festations of envy. The little girl now wants consciously to 
possess the organ and she gives her wish a very real content: 
here is a positive possession that can serve various purposes 
(playing, urinating). 19 But the really dynamic cause of penis 
envy lies deeper and is the prerequisite to the real experience. 

Even though penis envy has secondary and traumatic sig- 
nificance, it is a component of the feminine soul that so regularly 
appears in analytic treatment that we must regard it as "nor- 
mal." Only when it is excessive and has disturbing effects 
does it acquire an abnormal character. Nor does it remain 
isolated in the psychic structure; rather, it associates itself with 
various other psychologic contents, is intensified and often 
brought to the fore only by them, and in such combinations 
becomes a part or the center of the feminine masculinity com- 
plex that we shall discuss later. 

19 HORNEY, K.; On the genesis of the castration complex. Internat. J. Psycho- 
Analysis, vol. 5, 1924. 


Feminine Masochism 

WE HAVE dealt with the genesis of feminine passivity in 
so far as it is connected with the genital trauma and 
the fate of the sexual instincts. This part of our 
analysis thus took cognizance only of woman's sexual tend- 
encies. But even though we ascribe great power to the influ- 
ence of sexuality on the personality as a whole, "we must 
remember/' as Freud 1 put it, "that an individual woman may 
be a human being apart from this." Hence we must look for 
other sources of feminine passivity. Methodologically it seems 
simpler to discuss these sources together with the problem of 
feminine masochism. These two problems are not identical, 
but the origins of masochism and passivity are intimately con- 
nected. They are both the outcome of the feminine constitu- 
tion and of a mechanism of instinctual reversion related to it 
that turns energies directed toward the outer world inward; 
and in so far as activity is concerned, we have considered passiv- 
ity simply as a state of inhibition. 

We know that the child's activity and entire instinctual 
life are strongly impregnated with aggressive tendencies, and 
we assume that whenever the activity is inhibited, the aggres- 
sive tendencies suffer the same fate. Their dynamic force does 
not allow them to remain in a state of mere inhibition, they 
continue to be active, and only their direction changes. This 
aggression turned against one's own ego would lead to dangerous 
self-destruction if the process were not subjected to further 
transformation. Freud 2 assumes that the "development of 
strong masochistic impulses has the effect of binding erotically 

1 FRBUD, S.: The psychology of women. New introductory lectures on psycho- 
analysis, p. 185. 
"Ibid., p. 158. 


the destructive tendencies that have been turned inward." 
This hypothetic assumption rests upon another hypothesis, 
namely, that such masochistic impulses were present earlier, 
before the aggressive turn, and now are further strengthened. 
We do not intend here to attempt a solution of this problem. 
Perhaps the interplay between narcissism and masochism that 
we invoked for explaining feminine psychology has a prehistory, 
a period during which narcissistic-self-love mastered the de- 
structive impulse directed against the ego, creating a disposi- 
tion to masochism. In this process self-love achieves a com- 
plete triumph, for normal women display no signs of a tendency 
to inflict physical pain and moral suffering upon themselves in 
order to derive pleasure from such actions. Only later, in rela- 
tion to the world of objects and in various acts connected with 
the feminine reproductive functions, is their tendency to asso- 
ciate pleasure and pain revealed. 

Further on in our discussion we shall study the psychologic 
events that strengthen this feminine tendency to passivity and 
masochism. The mechanism of the turn from the active to the 
passive, moreover, pervades woman's entire instinctual life. 
As an illustration of this, one might cite the fact that voyeurism 
in women has much more the character of passive-exhibitionistic 
being gazed at, while active gazing is more characteristic of 

To avoid misunderstandings, we must differentiate feminine 
masochism from "moral" masochism, which is a consequence of 
the unconscious feeling of guilt and serves the self-punishing 
tendencies, not erotic pleasure. 8 Naturally, the boundaries 
between the two are sometimes uncertain, and in appraising 
feminine masochistic manifestations we can take the quantita- 
tive element into account for purposes of differentiation: an 
excess of masochistic attitudes, an obvious tendency to suffer 
without compensation through love, etc., make us suspect the 

Freud refers to "erotogenic" or "feminine" masochism, as distinguished from "moral" 
masochism: The economic problem in masochism, Collected Papers, vol. 2. 


presence of the moral ingredient. Nor must we confuse femi- 
nine masochism with conscious masochistic perversion. 

All human life is built on the striving to decrease discomfort 
and pain, and the idea that women, who constitute the majority 
of the human race, are masochistic and seek pain and suffering, 
quite naturally meets with wide skepticism and opposition. 

A normal woman, when told that masochism and passivity 
are essential elements of her psychology, will no doubt dispute 
this. She will use against the charge of passivity the fact that 
she is active all day long, that she cannot bear to remain idle. 
She will resist the charge of masochism even more strongly, 
declaring that she is strong-willed and would not tolerate sub- 
jection to the will of any man; the idea that she is fond of suffer- 
ing and pain and seeks them seems to her absurd. If told that 
masochism is part of her sexuality, she may reply that the pain 
of defloration spoiled her honeymoon and that only her love 
and tenderness for her husband made this pain bearable. A 
modern woman, asked to endure labor pains without recourse 
to the modern devices for easing childbirth, and thus to abide 
by the Bible's commandment, "In sorrow shalt thou bring forth 
children," would certainly reject the proposal with indignation. 
Obstetricians tell us that pregnant women often make them 
promise at the very first consultation that everything possible 
will be done to alleviate their labor pains. In fact the doctor's 
soothing words on this score play an important part in easing 
the woman's anxiety over childbirth. From this conscious re- 
jection of pain, we can infer that the desire for it if it does 
exist is unconscious, and that the woman herself resists it. If 
we assume a constitutional and anatomic factor as the basis of 
feminine masochism, we are confronted with the problem: How 
does woman succeed in favorably managing her masochistic 
tendencies? Here we shall try to trace the paths of the further 
development of masochism and passivity and find out how 
woman accepts masochism and assimilates it in the formation 
of her personality. 

Let us recall the girl's prepuberty phase. In this phase, as 


we saw, the young girl is very active, she is relatively free from 
sexual instincts, and in her activity we discovered no symptoms 
of repugnance to femininity, no reaction formations, no evi- 
dence of flights into masculinity, etc. A normal and healthy 
girl actively tries to conquer her environment. In this she 
repeats or continues an effort initiated in early childhood the 
drive toward adjustment, toward mastery of reality, a drive 
particularly potent in prepuberty. 

We have already pointed out that we do not regard the pro- 
cesses of maturation as mere products of instinctual develop- 
ments or as solutions of conflicts with these developments; 
rather, in agreement with many writers within the psychoana- 
lytic school and outside it, we assume the existence of "primary 
functions of the ego, defined as that organization of integrated 
functions by which we perceive, appraise, and manipulate the 
environment/' 4 Hartmann urges us to include "the totality of 
these functions in so far as they factually, individually, or 
generally operate beyond the field of psychic conflicts," under 
the provisional name of "a conflict-free sphere of the ego/' 6 

For the clarification of our conception of feminine passivity 
and masochism, the hypothesis of an independently operating 
active tendency in the ego will be extremely useful. In the 
light of this hypothesis, adjustment signifies not passive accept- 
ance but active collaboration, with the purpose of influencing 
and transforming the environment. 

It is difficult for psychoanalytic theory to conceive ego 
functions operating outside the sphere of instinctual conflicts. 
The freedom of ego functions with regard to the environment 
seems to be extremely relative. Every new developmental 
phase in the "conflict-free sphere of the ego" is conditioned by 
memories of former phases and by environmental factors. The 
individual thus has two problems to solve: he must repeatedly 

4 HENDRiCK, I.: Work and the pleasure principle. Psychoanalyt Quart. 12: 

313, I943- 

6 HARTMANN, H.: Ich-Psychologie und Anpassungsproblem. Internat. Ztschr. f. 
Psychoanal. 24: 66, 1939. 


liberate himself from past dependencies, and he must master 
difficulties in the outside world. These problems are difficult, 
and the individual may fail in either of them; usually they are 
connected, and when one is not solved, the other likewise re- 
mains unliquidated. 

Observing this struggle for liberation of the ego, we realize 
that the object world of early childhood that must be given up 
piecemeal with each new drive toward activity, is represented 
by the mother. Here sex differences do not seem to play any 
part. Boys and girls have passively received gratification of 
their instinctual needs from the mother and have for a long 
period of life depended on her help and support precisely in 
their most active ego functions. Getting up from the ground, 
walking upright, taking food, becoming aware of dangers and 
how to avoid them all these took place with the mother's 
active collaboration. The child's dependence upon her thus 
not only has a libidinous character, but is also a necessary result 
of the long period of helplessness. From the beginning the 
passive drives of the ego were centripetally directed toward the 
mother, the active ones centrifugally away from her. If we 
investigate the libidinous and aggressive influences to which 
these ego drives are subjected, we shall discover that very com- 
plicated relationships arise here, in which the two factors some- 
times further and sometimes hinder each other. 

As the child with gradually increasing intensity turns away 
from the mother and childhood dependencies in favor of active 
adjustment to reality, this reality is represented more and more 
by the father and this is true of both boys and girls. The 
relation of parents to children parallels that of children to 
parents: the mother is most strongly tied to the child in the 
period of its greatest helplessness; the father begins to show real 
interest in the child when it becomes susceptible to his influence 
and shows a stronger interest in the outside world. 

No emotional tie is given up without the accompaniment ot 
negative feelings; and in the child's primitive emotional life, 
dependence is always identical with love, and the struggle for 


independence is accompanied by hostility. This struggle must 
use negative feelings to overcome the mother tie and the fear of 
losing her. Thus the infantile anxieties of the period of strug- 
gle for liberation stem from two sources from the aggression 
that is used to achieve this liberation, and from the fear of losing 
the mother. 

In this struggle both boys and girls turn from the mother to 
the father. Both use negative feelings, i.e., hostility to the 
mother, as a motive force for liberation. 

It is impossible for us to ascertain whether the active ego 
drives would prove sufficient in the individual's turn from the 
mother toward reality if they were not accompanied by deeper 
and more instinctual forces. We are acquainted with a number 
of motives that induce children of both sexes to turn away from 
the mother frustrations, slights, jealousy, restriction of sexual 
freedom, and the infantile tendency to aggression and emotional 
ambivalence. In girls, an additional motive arises from emo- 
tional reactions connected with the genital trauma, since they 
turn their resentment of their own inferiority against their 
mothers and make them responsible for it. While we are not 
quite clear about the temporal sequence of these developments, 
we can assume that all these motives support the drive toward 
independence and are perhaps even prerequisites for this drive. 

What is the purpose of the turn toward the father? What 
does the boy or the girl expect of him? Principally, an alliance 
against the mother in favor of reality. The father is the repre- 
sentative of reality and the outside world in which the children 
want to live as grownups. In contrast to him, the mother is too 
much tied up with old infantile gratifications, with helplessness 
and dependence. To be grown up means to move away from 
the mother. 

The father (or his substitute) has an affirmative attitude to- 
ward his son's desire. We know from experience that the lack 
of such a relation with a father is extremely unfavorable to the 
boy. A masculine alliance, unencumbered by emotional com- 
plications resulting from rivalry for the mother's love, is wel- 


corned by both parties. Thus the father supports his son's 
early masculinity and from now on both are engaged in a strug- 
gle not for the mother's love, but against her. A kind of 
condescending, patronizing, slightly devaluating attitude 
toward her characterizes the boy in various active life phases, 
and, interestingly enough, the father usually shows himself 
willing to enter into an alliance based on this attitude. But if 
the father is brutal to the mother or mistreats her, the son 
refuses to become his ally, and under the pressure of guilt feel- 
ings his alliance with the mother is strengthened. In such a 
case the boy's adjustment to reality is thwarted by a strengthen- 
ing of the Oedipus complex. This constitutes the most 
dangerous disturbance in his development, because it is the most 

A feminine and sensitive mother helps her son in the turn 
toward reality just described, and facilitates his activity and 
the development of his ego even when it involves her renuncia- 
tion of his tender attachment to herself. 

We must consider the fate of the boy further in order to gain 
an insight into that of the girl. The man to man relation does 
not always remain harmonious. Father and son undertake 
common actions in the outside world, the type of action depend- 
ing on the cultural milieu the father for educational reasons, 
in order to make his son strong and manly, the son in order to 
be as manly as the father. " Rough-housing" and playful com- 
petition with the father is a natural outlet for boys' aggressive- 
ness. In time, however, the boy must sufter a defeat in the 
still playful struggles with his father. In normal cases he trans- 
fers the idea of competitive struggle to persons of equal or 
lesser strength, and his later task will consist in conquering the 
"tyrant" with the help of his brothers (friends). In prepu- 
berty and puberty we find the normal boy engaged in the con- 
tinuation of these struggles, which are now directed against the 
father and his substitutes. 

The son-father relation may also assume a more passive 
character. The boy accepts his defeat and wants to be loved 


by his father, or makes a compromise. Sons who preserve their 
manliness but throughout life aspire never to primary but only 
to secondary positions, in which they want to be loved and 
valued by their superiors as the "best," illustrate such a com- 

It is certain that these active tendencies emanating from the 
ego are disturbed or furthered by instinctual conflicts. For 
instance, the alliance with the father entered into for the pur- 
pose of strengthening the ego can, if disturbed by instinctual 
processes, easily lead to a passive-homosexual development, etc. 

Let us now investigate the case of the girl. How does the 
environment affect her turn toward the father? Here the 
influence of the mother is much more inhibiting than it is with 
regard to the boy. The mother feels and her feeling is sup- 
ported by objective facts that the girl is weaker and needs 
more help than does the boy, and that the girl cannot pursue 
her drive toward activity without exposing herself to dangers. 
In brief, the inhibiting influence of the environment asserts 
itself in terms of the girl's biologic structure. The girl, like 
the boy, appeals to the father and tries to enlist his aid. 
The process is more complicated and the solution more varied 
than in the case of the boy. The father often accepts his little 
daughter's demand, especially when he has no son. One might 
suppose that in this intensification of activity supported by the 
father the little girl's femininity would be endangered. But 
this does not seem always to be the case. The reasonable grati- 
fication of the need for activity and liberation from the mother's 
inhibiting tutelage offers better prospects for later sublimations 
and for the development of a positive tender relation to the 
mother that is of the greatest importance for the girl's feminin- 
ity. In every development, the inhibition of normal tendencies 
at any point contains the germ of later disturbances. We 
regard the achievements of each developmental phase as dis- 
positional acquisitions for the future. Puberty will bring these 
acquisitions to the fore. An active relation of the girl to the 
father if it has not suffered any distortion in the interval will 


manifest itself also during puberty in active sublimation tenden- 
cies that often have the character of identification with the 
lather, without bringing in their train any danger to the devel- 
opment of femininity. 

But this normal development toward activity may undergo 
various disturbances; of these we shall consider only the most 
frequent and typical. The girl's relation to the father may, for 
instance, exhaust all the emotional sources that would other- 
wise be directed toward heterosexual objects when the girl 
reaches sexual maturity. The overestimation of the father 
developed in this active relationship can only with difficulty be 
transferred to another man, upon whom extremely high de- 
mands will be made. This complicates the task of finding a 
love object and the constantly renewed demands made upon 
the man may prove a great obstacle to happiness in love and 

In other cases, there occurs, at a very early age, a split ol 
which we have spoken before: the girl's active sublimating 
tendencies are attached to the father, while her sexual fantasies 
assume an extraordinarily passive and masochistic character. 
It is remarkable how many women who preserve the activity of 
their egos, and use it for sublimation purposes, are extremely 
passive and masochistic in their sexual behavior; either they 
remain erotically isolated, avoiding all dangers, or fall victims 
to brutal men. This split is very often the result of an identifi- 
cation with the father, later continuing in a favorable sublima- 
tion, in which the feminine erotic component remains on the 
level of infantile masochism. The whole attitude of these 
women toward life may be very active and masculine, and they 
may display particular resistance and aggressiveness in the 
struggle for life. Sometimes this masculine attitude is an 
abortive reaction formation, an attempt to flee from exces- 
sively masochistic femininity. But the reaction has not affected 
the whole instinctual tendency, and the masochistic impulse 
recurs in each feminine feeling. The flight could succeed here 
only if femininity were given up completely. 


This split already begins with the active father relationship 
discussed above; the sensual current, which remains uncon- 
scious, joins it only later and gradually. The object of the two 
tendencies (active and passive-masochistic) is the father. The 
psychologic effect is as though the young girl had two fathers 
the "day father" with whom her relation is conscious, with an 
active emphasis, and the "night father/' who brings all the 
dangers of cruelty and seduction in his train and mobilizes 
anxious nightmares. In the fantasy formation that is called the 
family romance, this split comes to the fore with especial clarity. 
The girl has a feeling, which is perceived with full reality, that 
she has two fathers. One is the real father; the masochistic 
current that was directed also toward him, may assert itself 
consciously if it has been displaced to another father through 
fantasy activity. Sometimes the split in the father relationship 
appears only in puberty, when emotional life is seized by such a 
powerful sensual current that the tender relationship to the 
father and the active identification with him can no longer 
resist the sensual impulses. The latter are split off, the normal 
connection between the active and passive currents does not 
take place, and as a final result we obtain active masculinity 
and intensified masochism. 

But these difficulties can also be avoided. Often such a rela- 
tion to the father continues from earliest childhood; sometimes 
it begins only with the young girl's intellectual maturity. It 
can be conducive to happiness and gratifying even if the girl's 
erotic capacity remains excessively fixed in the sublimated 
father relationship. The girl's renunciation of erotic fulfillment 
must not be judged by stereotyped standards. Observation 
teaches us that a strongly sublimated daughter-father tie does 
not necessarily involve neurosis or feelings of frustration and 
privation, even if it impairs the girl's erotic life. Fulfillment of 
the positive goal of life is not necessarily connected with normal 

Such a relation to the father is often provoked by him, and 
the psychologic motive for maintaining it often lies in him. 


Sometimes he wants the daughter to replace the son he never 
had or who was a failure, and to inherit his spiritual values; 
often the man's love for his mother is transferred to the 
daughter and brought into a gratifying form on condition that 
the sublimation has been completely successful. Interestingly 
enough, such a relation very often obtains with the third 
daughter, especially if she is also the youngest. It is as though 
the father's relation to the daughter has got rid of its dangers 
and freed itself from the fear of incest with the two older daugh- 
ters. The third one Cinderella seems to be particularly 
suitable tor the father's love choice because of her helplessness 
and apparent innocuousness. The need to save the little 
daughter from the aggressions of the mother and the older 
sisters certainly plays a great part here. We shall not go here 
into the deeper motives for such a relation. 6 

Very often the danger of such a relation to the father arises 
from the fact that sometimes he grants his daughter's request 
for an alliance and later abruptly breaks this bond. The father 
suddenly realizes, often under the prompting of the mother, 
that his daughter is approaching sexual maturity and should 
have more feminine interests; he refuses to have "active" com- 
munion with her. Very often his own subsequent anxiety 
drives him to repudiate this relation. 

Another form of the girl's activity consists in banding to- 
gether with boys; this is most likely to occur if she has brothers. 
It is fascinating to observe how easily the urge to boyish activity 
is transformed into a masochistic trend. The boys admit the 
girl to their games as an equal if she allows herself to be beaten 
from time to time and is willing to perform exhibitionistic and 
humiliating acts. There are desperate cries and tearful com- 
plaints; soon afterward the boyish masochist is consoled and 
again engages in the same games. This is a simple example of 
double gratification. It might be thought that the little girl 
accepts suffering for the sake of gratifying her natural need for 

6 Freud subjects the role of the third sister to a profound psychoanalytic investigation 
in: Motiv der Kastchenwahl. Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 10, p. 243. 


activity. But this is not the case: actually, she is already a 
little woman, in whom the active and masochistic ingredients 
are operating parallel to each other. Later her ego will not 
easily accept this double game, and conflicts will arise the solu- 
tion of which will become one of her most difficult tasks. 

We have tried so far to follow the ways of feminine activity 
in those cases in which it was seemingly afforded special possi- 
bilities tor development. These are obviously favorable to the 
purposes of activity, but not always to the harmony of the 
personality as a whole. We do not wish to maintain that under 
less favorable conditions the girl's activity is doomed to extinc- 
tion; its forms are different from the boy's and her urge lacks the 
fighting, driving element. In contrast to the development of 
the boy, the activity of the female child, on the path toward 
adjustment to reality by way of the breaking of the mother tie, 
encounters an inhibition of her ego development imposed by 
the outside world. 

It seems that all forms of childhood activity, whatever its 
origin, are accompanied by aggressive tendencies, and that the 
fate of the latter constitutes a decisive factor in the psychologic 
differences between man and woman. The boy who frees him- 
self from his dependence upon his mother is more than active: 
he fights for his active position and thus finds an outlet for his 
aggressions. As he matures physically and psychologically, 
his active and aggressive forces are distributed in a manner that 
strengthens the ego and that is accepted by society. 

With regard to the girl, however, the environment exerts an 
inhibiting influence as regards both her aggressions and her 
activity. The effect of this inhibition depends on the intensity 
of the environmental influences and on the strength of the girl's 
active urge. Here the forces of the outer and the inner world 
act in the same direction that is, the urge toward activity in 
woman is weaker and the external inhibition stronger. It is 
above all the aggressive components that are inhibited; the 
social environment not only rejects them but also offers the 
woman's ego a kind of prize or bribe for renouncing them. For 


the sake of simplifying our exposition, we have divided the 
child's environment into two parts on the one hand the world 
of the mother, who loves and inhibits her child, and who, begin- 
ning with a definite point in its development, condemns it to 
passivity, and, on the other, the fighting, activity-encouraging 
world of the father. The developmental processes take place 
within the triangular situation that we meet again and again. 
We have seen that children of both sexes ask the father as the 
representative of reality to help them liberate themselves from 
the mother. This request is sometimes granted the girl with 
regard to activity, but never with regard to aggression. Has 
anyone ever seen a father romping with his little daughter in 
any manner except lovingly? Does he ever encourage her to 
competitive struggles? The bribe offered to the little girl by 
the father, as a representative of the environment, is love and 
tenderness. For its sake she renounces any further intensifica- 
tion of her activity, most particularly of her aggressions. 

In brief, the girl gives up her aggressions partly as a result of 
her own weakness, partly because of the taboos of the environ- 
ment, and chiefly because of the love prize given her as compen- 
sation. Here we come to a development that again and again 
takes place in the woman: activity becomes passivity, and 
aggression is renounced for the sake of being loved. In this 
renunciation the aggressive forces that are not actively spent 
must find an outlet, and they do this by endowing the passive 
state of being loved with a masochistic character. Earlier we 
have tried to explain feminine passivity on the basis of the 
anatomic difference between the sexes. The same explanation 
applies to feminine masochism. The absence of an active organ 
brought the turn toward passivity and masochism in its train. 
It is noteworthy that the processes in the ego and the instincts, 
the constitutional, anatomic, and environmental factors, all 
seem to work together to produce femininity. 

We have observed that apparently even the most successful 
active sublimations of woman do not insure freedom from 
masochistic drives. We have mentioned the active-masculine 


type, in whom the strong masochistic tendencies are repressed 
or split oft. To make this more clear, it seems that the femi- 
nine kind of sublimation of masochistic drives is more successful 
than the active forms. The type of feminine woman we en- 
countered in the previous chapter justifies us in this conclusion. 
The feminine woman is evidently much better equipped to con 
trol her feminine masochism than is the active type. 

Our observations seem to call for a few corrections of the 
psychoanalytic hypotheses concerning the development of 
girls. 7 The former psychoanalytic observations of the little 
girl's development dealt chiefly with her sexual instincts. It 
was found that with her detachment from her mother, the little 
girl already a miniature woman has an erotic-passive atti- 
tude toward her father, an attitude that constitutes the kernel 
of the feminine Oedipus complex. But we have overlooked the 
fact that, contrary to our previous views, the girl's first turn 
toward the father has an active, not a passive character, and 
her passive attitude is only a secondary development. The 
active turn results from a process of growth and adjustment to 
reality. In prepuberty this process is repeated and continues 
for a time in the almost regular identification with the father 
in puberty. 

This activity thrust of the girl is usually met by an attitude on 
the part of the father that exerts an inhibiting influence on her 
active drive. In this function the father is a representative of 
the environment, which later will again and again exert this 
inhibiting influence on the woman's activity and drive her back 
into her constitutionally predetermined passive role This atti- 
tude of the father contains another element of decisive impor- 
tance in feminine development. He appears, without being 
conscious of it, as a seducer, with whose help the girl's aggressive 
instinctual components are transformed into masochistic ones. 
The masochistic ingredient in the relation to the father appears 
in the active games with him, which later assume an increas- 
ingly erotic character. It is enough to observe the little girl's 

7 FRBUD, S.: Op. cit., p. 174. 


fearful jubilation when the father performs acrobatic tricks 
with her that are often painful, when he throws her up in the 
air, or lets her ride "piggy back" on his shoulders. When this 
seduction on the part of the father is lacking, the girl will 
encounter difficulties in her feminine development. 

Our theory of the girl's relation to the mother also requires 
modification. The especially hate-filled attitude that we ob- 
serve in our female patients represents usually a neurotic 
intensification of hostility. In a more normal development, the 
detachment from the mother proceeds gradually, step by step. 
The process is a conflict between attachment and detachment; 
the latter acquires new hate components from the now intensi- 
fied rivalry for the father's love, but in favorable cases the 
process ends with a positive, tender, and forgiving relation to 
the mother and such a relation is one of the most important 
prerequisites for psychologic harmony in later femininity. 
Before this is achieved, the girl's mother relation passes through 
various phases, each of which contains its own dangers. To 
understand these we must considerably modify the accepted 
notions of pre-oedipal, oedipal, and postoedipal mother rela- 
tions. There is only one mother relation from birth until death, 
though it undergoes various changes in accordance with the 
childhood development. 

Paradoxically, the girl's mother relation is more persistent, 
and often more intense and dangerous, than the boy's. The 
inhibition she encounters when she turns toward reality brings 
her back to her mother for a period marked by heightened and 
more infantile love demands. This regression is very often 
responsible for feminine neuroses and severe disturbances in 
character formation. The renewed aspiration to go forward 
aggressively is laden with masochistic elements; it dangerously 
inclines the girl to assume a passive-masochistic attitude toward 
her mother and probably predisposes her to homosexuality more 
than her own masculinity does (see chap. ix). 

It is a remarkable fact that the types of neurosis we encounter 
nowadays with increasing frequency reveal just such a passive- 


masochistic, infantile relation to the mother more clearly than 
did the older types, whose main content was found to be depend- 
ence on the father tie and the masculinity complex. In the 
cases we have in mind the relation to the father often takes the 
form of a twofold accusation. There is first the reproach that 
he did not help the girl sufficiently in her active effort to liberate 
herself from her mother; second and this reproach has a 
more erotic character he is accused of having failed to prevent 
by his love the girl's return to her mother. 

This regressive relation to the mother involves dangers that 
obviously surpass even those involved in a masochistic attitude 
toward the father. We can now understand why female homo- 
sexuality is often repelled with panic. For the fulfillment of 
this erotic desire signifies not only return to an infantile form of 
existence, but also a profound union with the mother, a union 
that is of a deeply regressive character and that contains the 
threat of psychosis and even of death. 

The regression toward the mother that we regard as a normal 
process, although it is not without its dangers, provides the girl 
with an opportunity for reconciliation with her mother and 
simultaneously for freeing herself from her aggressions as well 
as from her masochistic dependence. Early puberty, during 
which this conflict between aggression and dependence is re- 
peated, gives us the best opportunity to observe its unfolding. 

The passive-masochistic attitude toward the father that is 
to say, toward men and toward life as a whole can be seen with 
particular clarity in puberty. But analysts of children tell us 
also of the cruelty of childish aggressions and of children's 
sadistic-masochistic interpretation of coitus. Reconstructions 
of childhood fantasies in the analyses of adults confirm these 
observations; we do not know to what extent real occurrences, 
such as actually overhearing parents during cohabitation or ob- 
serving the sexual acts of animals, contribute to these fantasies, 
and to what extent we have to deal here with deeper-rooted, 
perhaps phylogenetically conditioned fantasies. Psychoanaly- 
sis can, for the moment, clearly determine only their existence, 


not their genesis. From reliable observation of the develop- 
ment of little girls, one gains the impression that dreams and 
fears relating to penetration of the body usually not through 
the genitals appear independently of real observation of 

The fantasy lite of girls in puberty reveals an unmistakably 
masochistic content. Girlish fantasies relating to rape often 
remain unconscious but evince their content in dreams, some- 
times in symptoms, and often accompany masturbating actions. 
In dreams the rape is symbolic: the terrifying male persecutor 
with knife in hand, the burglar who breaks in at the window, 
the thief who steals a particularly valuable object, are the most 
typical and frequently recurring figures in the dreams of young 
girls. They are connected with fear, not with pleasure, and 
thus differ from the boy's puberty dreams, the clearly sexual 
character of which is revealed by their effect, the nocturnal 
seminal emission. 

The conscious masochistic rape fantasies, however, are in- 
dubitably erotic, since they are connected with masturbation 
They are less genital in character than the symbolic dreams, 
and involve blows and humiliations; in fact, in rare cases the 
genitals themselves are the target of the act of violence. In 
other cases, they are less cruel, and the attack as well as the 
overpowering of the girl's will constitute the erotic element. 
Often the fantasy is divided into two acts: the first, the masoch- 
istic act, produces the sexual tension, and the second, the 
amorous act, supplies all the delights of being loved and desired. 
These fantasies vanish with the giving up of masturbation and 
yield to erotic infatuations detached from direct sexuality. 
The masochistic tendency now betrays itself only in the painful 
longing and wish to suffer for the lover (often unknown). The 
predominance of the narcissistic element in the erotic fantasies 
is in itself a triumph over the masochistic element. Many 
women retain these masochistic fantasies until an advanced 
age. Such women are far removed from any manifest perver- 
sion; on the contrary, they are often extraordinarily sensitive 


and resentful of any psychic or physical pain. In these women 
especially, the narcissistic wish to be loved and desired predomi- 
nates as far as their consciously sought experiences are con- 

We learn often even without deeper analytic investigation 
that rape fantasies are variants of the seduction fantasies so 
familiar to us in the lying accounts of hysterical women pa- 
tients. Both rape and seduction fantasies are deliberately 
passed on to other persons as true, and they have the typical 
pseudologic character we found in the more romantic and fan- 
tastic lies of puberty (p. 123). That is, they draw their 
appearance of truth from the fact that underlying them is a real 
but repressed experience. It is precisely rape fantasies that 
often have such irresistible verisimilitude that even the most 
experienced judges are misled in trials of innocent men accused 
of rape by hysterical women. My own experience of accounts 
by white women of rape by Negroes (who are often subjected 
to terrible penalties as a result of these accusations) has con- 
vinced me that many fantastic stories are produced by the 
masochistic yearnings of these women. 8 Freud 9 calls attention 
to the fact that hysterical patients often speak of having been 
seduced by their fathers, and that the same seduction fantasy 
sometimes involves the mother. He thinks that seduction by 
the mother as contrasted with that by the father "has a real 
basis, for the mother, who took care of her child's body, must 
actually have aroused pleasure sensations in the genitals." 

My own observations suggest that the fantasies relating to 
the father are also based on a real seduction. The crueler 
character of these fantasies results from the fact that this seduc- 
tion took place at the height of the masochistic turn, when the 
girl's activity was inhibited by her father's tenderness. We 
have already mentioned the games with the father, which are 

8 DOLLARD, J.: Caste and class in a southern town. Published for the Institute of 
Human Relations by Yale University Press, 1937. 

FREUD, S.: The psychology of women. New introductory lectures on psycho- 
analysis, p. 164. 


full of a directly experienced fearful pleasure very close to 

Another very frequent rape fantasy is a sort of masochistic 
orgy within a triangular situation. In this characteristic 
fantasy a female figure forces the girl to submit to sexual acts 
performed by men whom the female urges on. The female 
figure ties the girl, gags her, and prepares red-hot objects; 
these are applied by the men to the girl's genitals. Sometimes 
the temale figure introduces a number of men who one after the 
other abuse the girl sexually. Compulsion by a woman plays 
the principal part in these practices. The superficial elements 
of these fantasies are easy to grasp: the pain decreases the guilt 
feeling produced by the pleasure, the rape frees the girl from 
responsibility, the compulsion exerted by the woman, who 
represents the mother, is a counterweight to the latter's pro- 
hibitions. To be sure, every masochistic function contains a 
component of moral masochism that serves to gratify guilt 
feelings. But the principal motive force of all these methods 
of achieving masochistic pleasure stems from the erotic needs of 
instinctual components that have been repressed and that assert 
themselves in this open form in fantasy life. It is no doubt 
only by sanction of pain and by negation of the object's identity 
that these fantasies can come before consciousness. 

Everything that takes place in puberty is so important to us 
because during this phase the second cornerstone of the future 
personality is laid (the first was laid in childhood). Moreover, 
the same instinctual motives that operated in childhood again 
come into play. This life period cannot escape the returning 
ghosts and for that reason it gives us important insights into 
earlier developments. Among these ghosts are the rekindled 
masochistic tendencies that now, as we see, are no longer dark, 
unconscious premonitions, but clearly defined fantasies in close 
contact with reality. The task of puberty is to bring these 
into normal channels. 

The rape and seduction fantasy, with its primitive sexual con- 
tent directly relating to the body, is less dangerous than other 


masochistic fantasies, mostly unconscious, that do not work 
directly toward the gross sexual goal. If the rape fantasies were 
directly gratified they would lead to perversion, but this is 
extremely rare; it is known that the masochistic perversion is 
less frequently found in women than in men. Where it exists, 
its content is completely different from that of the rape fantasy: 
its essence is the wish to be beaten. Women with such perver- 
sions whom I have had an opportunity to examine maintained 
that they felt no pleasure sensations while being beaten, and 
that they agreed to be beaten partly for professional-financial 
reasons (if they were prostitutes) and partly in order to offer 
themselves as "love sacrifices'* to sadistic lovers. It is interest- 
ing to note that the masochistic wish is gratified here by a 
detour, that is to say, by the choice of a sadistic love object and 
the toleration of his perversions, while direct gratification is 
rejected. A somewhat more dangerous group of sexual fan- 
tasies are the prostitution fantasies that, especially in big cities, 
are based on occasional exciting observations of street life at 
night, stories, and popular "thrillers." The dangers of their 
realization are particularly great for growing girls from social 
strata in which economic motives, for instance poverty, can 
serve as a rationalization and can incite to action. We have 
touched on this point in our discussion of the case of Evelyn. 
We discuss these fantasies in connection with feminine masoch- 
ism because such masochism usually serves as the principal 
theme of the prostitution fantasy. 

Two factors are particularly responsible for this fantasy for- 
mation in puberty. The first lies in the dark stirrings of sexual 
excitation, and has a rather undefined, not genitally localized 
character; the second lies in the simultaneous intensification of 
the idealistic-narcissistic demands upon the ego that we have 
described as characteristic of puberty. 

As a result of the tension between these two forces acting in 
opposite directions, anxiety states and symptoms and prosti- 
tution fantasies arise. We learn of their existence in various 
ways. Sometimes they make their way into consciousness and 


are confidentially communicated to other persons; in other 
cases they are acted out, and their bizarreness and monotony 
reveal the inner contents. But the best method of reaching 
them is psychoanalysis. Once they have been recognized 
analytically as typical, they can easily be unmasked in less 
direct manifestations. There are various types of prostitution 
fantasies, especially in puberty. In one of these types, we 
find an extremely ascetic and narcissistic ego ideal, while sexu- 
ality is conceived of as extremely low and sinful. The sexual 
act is connected with the idea of the subjection of woman to 
man an idea whose roots are so deep that it is inaccessible to 
any intellectual correction. 

Here the ego ideal repudiates all sexual freedom, even the 
freedom to imagine. The inner perception of the sexual drive 
is condemned with a harsh "You are a whore!" and every stir- 
ring assumes the form of the masochistic, humiliating admission, 
"I am a whore." Fantasies of such a type have a particularly 
humiliating character. The very approach of a man is re- 
garded as a sexually humiliating attack; this is accompanied 
by the self-accusation, "I myself have provoked it" a confes- 
sion of the unconscious or conscious fantasy life. When this 
attitude is fixed, either the ego ideal has won (this leads to an 
ascetic mode of life) or the prostitution fantasy; this can then 
assume various forms. It can be realized in a respectable 
marriage, in which the sexual approach of the husband is expe- 
rienced as a degradation and humiliation, or it may result in 
the obsessional acting out of prostitution accompanied by the 
severest conflicts and feelings of guilt. One woman whom I 
observed managed to express the split directly by leading a 
strictly respectable life interspersed with lapses during which 
she went out into the streets and offered herself to passers-by 
for insignificant sums of money. 

Another type of fantasy more or less consciously involves the 
mother. According to the fantasy, the mother led a sexual life 
not for her own pleasure for she was a respectable woman 
but only for the sake of the father. The girl includes in her 


fantasy memories of events that suggest to her, rightly or 
wrongly, the idea that her father's erotic advances were painful 
and humiliating to her mother. It may be that the mother, as 
a reaction to a new and undesired pregnancy, either sincerely, 
or in order to excuse herself before her children, said something 
that aroused this impression and left its mark on the young 
girl's mind. The girl decides, at least in her fantasies, not to 
suffer her mother's fate. She wants to enjoy her sexuality, that 
is, not to be respectable like her mother, but to love freely, to be 
a "whore." Although this solution is intended as opposition 
to the mother's way of life, identity with the mother asserts 
itself in the fact that the prostitution fantasy likewise contains 
the masochistic element of subjection to the man's will. 

Still another type of fantasy appears to be the opposite of the 
foregoing. Here the respectable mother, from the very fact 
that she has had children, that is, a sexual life, is reduced to the 
status of a whore, and the girl's consciousness energetically 
rejects identity with her. The devaluation of the mother may 
reach a height of intense hatred and rage; the prostitution fan- 
tasy is mobilized against her and frequently acted out. Espe- 
cially when the depreciated mother begins to restrict the girl's 
freedom of movement and to display fears for her morality, does 
she provoke actions that at first are directed only against her- 
self, but that under certain circumstances can become very 
dangerous for the young girl. The masochistic element here is 
the fact that the girl's adventures are usually very unsatisfac- 
tory and bring her into unpleasant conflicts with the outside 
world. Many young runaways begin their careers after a 
violent struggle with their mothers. The identification with 
the mother here too asserts itself unconsciously. 

Similar to this is the behavior of the girl who rightly or 
wrongly imagines that her mother was or is a prostitute. She 
builds her own life, in a compulsive manner, on the model of this 
mother. This happens frequently with girls who have been 
adopted or reared in foster homes. The absence of the real 
mother, or the lack of knowledge about her, furthers this fantasy 
and leads to identification with the imagined unknown mother. 


It is noteworthy that a truly disreputable mother is less 
likely to induce the formation of prostitution fantasies and their 
realization than an imaginary and completely unreal version of 
a disreputable mother. In the former case the daughter can 
consciously control her course of life and refuse to resemble her 
mother, in the latter she is a tool of unconscious motives that 
cannot be influenced by the will. 

Various other types of prostitution fantasies are directly con- 
nected with the father. For instance, a daughter who has a 
particularly well sublimated relation to her father and sees this 
relation broken off with the approach of sexual maturity the 
father often being responsible for such a break avenges herself 
in a masochistic way and is repeatedly faithless to him with 
other men. The masochistic element is often concealed behind 
aggressive actions. The girl feels devaluated because she has 
been rejected by her father and she continues the devaluation by 
reducing herself to the role of a sexual object for anybody. The 
previous sharing of her father's love with her mother, in which 
she took the "better/' spiritual part and left the sexual part 
to her mother, now breaks down, and the girl's repressed sexual 
drives come to the fore and are transferred to other men. In 
many such cases the relation to the father is very tender, 
particularly when the girl is the youngest or one of the youngest 
among several sisters. As she grows up she loses her privileged 
position with her father and is treated like his other daughters. 
She retaliates for this faithlessness with faithlessness "all 
men instead of one man." She lowers herself to the sexual 
role that she formerly assigned to her mother. This rejection 
of the father in puberty is a very frequent motive not only 
tor fantasies but also for revenge reactions whose masochistic 
content reveals the formerly repressed relation to the father. 

The real personality of the father plays a particularly im- 
portant part in puberty. Paradoxically, promiscuity may 
express the quest for a highly estimable father after the real 
father has been devaluated. It is almost unbelievable how 
often a young and intelligent girl who has previously been 
quite strong-minded, gives herself to the first man she meets 


in order to re-experience rejection, and over and over again 
naively trusts a lover whom she barely knows, saying to 
herself, "He is a wonderful man/' One young girl who became 
pregnant as a result of a casual affair expected with complete 
confidence that her friend of one day would come to her as 
soon as he learned that she was in difficulties. For after all 
her tather was always there when she needed his help. 

Fathers who are brutal toward their wives, or who drink 
heavily and induce in their children a state of constant anxiety, 
are doubtless more likely to further the triumph of ascetic 
tendencies in their daughters than fathers who are passive 
and weak toward their wives. Only if the brutal father, as is 
so frequently the case, wavers between brutality and tender- 
ness toward his daughter, does he strengthen her masochistic 
ties, which she later continues, often promiscuously. The 
passive father who fails to protect his daughter in her frequent 
conflicts with her mother during puberty, often provokes more 
revenge tendencies than the brutal father. It is striking how 
many young runaways are found to have such passive fathers. 

Of the many determinants of the prostitution fantasy, we 
have singled out only the most typical. Whatever the cultural 
milieu, the psychologic background remains constant, al- 
though the forms and methods of realization of these fantasies 
vary greatly. The strictly reared daughter acts differently 
from the proletarian girl. One meets the latter in social 
agencies, the former in private practice and sanatoriums; 
the latter rationalizes her action by explaining that she was 
never properly cared for, or by adducing her economic dif- 
ficulties as the cause of her troubles; the former has a "neu- 

The prostitution fantasies briefly outlined here may be very 
richly elaborated, and then every detail corresponds to an 
unconscious content. Kidnaping, forced stay in a brothel, 
without the possibility of contact with the outside world, 
sexual abuse by various men of all descriptions, sale as merchan- 
dise in the white slave market, exotic trips to foreign lands, 


the figure of a wicked woman who usually plays an important 
part and directs the white slave trade, and at the end a "res- 
cuer" whose love saves the fallen woman all these are con- 
densations of things heard or read, combined with the girl's 
own psychologic life and her fantastic ideas about sex. 

Those who have investigated the life of professional prosti- 
tutes are often surprised to find that their existence is greatly 
reminiscent of these fantasies. The lies that prostitutes are so 
fond of telling to naive men coincide literally with the contents 
of puberty fantasies. At the beginning there is usually the 
wonderful man who seduced and deserted the girl or, in a more 
tragic version, lost his life. He is responsible for all her misery. 
There is the wicked woman who has made her a slave, and 
there is the envy of the older prostitutes who make her life 
miserable, etc. More naive "customers" are also told stories 
of kidnaping, white slave traffic, cruel fetters, etc. These 
"whore lies" are in fact ordinary daydreams forged by the 
customer and the prostitute together. Intuitive or exper- 
ienced prostitutes know how to adapt the content of their 
lies to the psychology of the customer. The masochistic boy 
easily identifies himself with the "persecuted" girl and is full 
of anger against the guilty "brute." He even attempts to 
save her and is extremely disappointed when the victim does 
not accept his offer. The sadist vicariously experiences the 
atrocities in the stories and in his fantasy takes over the active 
role of the seducer; thus he can remain free of guilt feelings 
and of the onus of perversion. 

We are interested here in the problem of prostitution from 
the psychologic point of view. To be sure, among profes- 
sional prostitutes there are girls who are spiritually and morally 
weak, who have embraced this profession as the only solution 
of their social problem; it provides them with an opportunity 
to earn a living and they attach no emotional significance 
to their "trade." The fact that society condemns them 
does not bother them; moreover this is often overlooked 
the world of prostitution is a community with its own code 


and its members must more or less strictly observe that code. 
The moral demands of society do not inhibit them; the only 
way to touch them is by punishment. For many prostitutes 
this way of life is merely a continuation of the moral develop- 
ment that led or forced them in this direction from the begin- 
ning of their lives. 

Even the simplest moral laws have absolutely no influence 
on these women, because these sanctions express values that 
are completely alien to them. In their eyes, moral laws con- 
ceal unbearable wrongs and are full of the most contradictory 
requirements. To moral indignation, to every attempt to 
influence them to change their ways, they react with cynicism. 
And why should they accept moralistic proposals, if the 
tangible social norms are represented for them only by the 
police and the authorities whom they hate and struggle against? 
The promise of happiness in an orderly family does not tempt 
them because, according to their ideas, family life is only a 
source of unhappiness and disappointment or of deadly 

Their psychic infantilism makes of the entire world a nursery 
in which social institutions are personified by their representa- 
tives, and their emotions are turned against these representa- 
tives. Many investigators of the problem believe that prosti- 
tutes are "born" as such, and to prove it they argue that 
whenever a prostitute is removed from her milieu and placed 
in a new, more favorable one, she returns to her previous 
way of life out of her own desire and impulse. We grant 
that in these cases a powerful urge is present that proves 
stronger than everything else. The motives operating here 
are of course psychologic, but they are acquired, not innate. 

The following history of a prostitute will provide a good 
example of social rationalization of a behavior determined 
psychologically. This prostitute let us call her Anna was 
one of the unwelcome patients at a psychiatric clinic to 
which she was sent from time to time to be treated for attacks 
of rage. She was registered (as is the custom in Europe), 
and at almost every regular police inspection forcibly resisted 


examination. Once, suspected of having a venereal disease, 
she was taken to the medical examiner; she staged the usual 
"prostitute riot" and as a result was sent for psychiatric 
observation. In her later hospitalization the doctors were 
afraid of her, because she hated them all, aggressively de- 
manded release, fought with everyone, and was so shameless 
in her behavior that she had to be isolated, out of regard for 
the other patients; she was, however, much more accessible 
to the women nurses and women doctors. After some time 
I succeeded in winning her confidence and throughout a 
period of three years I had regular contacts with her. 

It was remarkable how her profession had left no trace on 
Anna's appearance. A blonde girl with innocent blue eyes, 
she had a transparent white skin through which in some places 
her blue veins could be seen, giving her face a peculiar charm. 
Her life history was very typical. She came of a proletarian 
family; her father had taken to drink, her mother was sickly, 
tormented, prematurely aged by work and worries; left to her- 
self, Anna was encouraged by the young people of her neigh- 
borhood to take this way of making easy money. Although 
later in the hospital she behaved like a real psychopath, she 
showed no genuine psychopathic symptoms. She seemed no 
more pathologic than the average girl. She took up prostitu- 
tion from economic motives, and quickly adapted herself to 
her profession, which became her whole world. She had no 
moral opinion on the subject of prostitution, and her contempt 
for the outside world was genuine. The social order was for 
her represented by men occupying high and important posi- 
tions, among whom she also numbered the doctors at the hos- 
pital. Asked why she so hated and despised these men, she 
would answer: "Why not? Don't we know better than any- 
one that these men easily drop their masks of gentility, self- 
control, and importance, and behave like beasts? . . . These men 
come to us expecting to have their way with us for money. If 
they meet the slightest resistance, they snivel and beg or fly 
into a rage." 

Thus this was a world of men who simulated tenderness and 


love only in order to behave like beasts. And whenever this 
world wanted to impose its authority on her, Anna replied by 
discharging all her fury and disappointment; for she always 
associated these men with a situation in which they were 
lowered to the status of animals. Anna became a prostitute 
out of economic motives, but she practiced her profession 
according to her own psychologically compulsive plan. Once 
she had loved her father and respected his paternal authority. 
After she had witnessed brutal scenes in which he made sexual 
demands on her mother, she began to despise and hate this 
respectable man; later she discharged her fury against her 
lather a fury that was impotent while she was still a child 
on other "respectable" men. She no longer believed in their 
respectability, even when they behaved in the most correct 
fashion. Anna had many opportunities to get married, but 
she rejected all proposals, discouraged by the family life 
she had known in her childhood. That she was actually 
continuing the masochistic role of her mother in her profession, 
she did not suspect. 

Anna led a double life and she maintained that many 
prostitutes lead such lives in certain respects. She liked 
books and music and had a fervent desire for a clear-cut moral- 
ity that she was willing to accept; only such a morality no 
longer existed for her. She was aggressive only with regard 
to "important" men; to young, poor, inexperienced men she 
was very helpful and sweet. She clung faithfully to the 
head nurse of our department and to me also, for years, but 
we were never able to exert the slightest influence on her be- 
havior. She never told lying stories, except once to the head 
nurse and once to me. To the iormer she spoke of a child she 
claimed to have had and asked the nurse to adopt it if she died. 
She gave the exact address where it could be found and other 
data concerning it. To me she spoke of a little box of jewels 
that she claimed to have deposited in a safe; she commissioned 
me to remove this after her death and to use the proceeds for 
charities. Neither of us, the head nurse nor I, knew the 


particular secret she had entrusted to the other for Anna 
had asked us not to mention it. After Anna died of tuber- 
culosis, both these stories turned out to be pseudologic. Char- 
acteristically, in her stories the child and the jewels had come 
from the man with whom she had first had intercourse as a 
professional prostitute. According to her story, this man 
loved her and wanted to marry her, but already had a wife 
and children. 

Although the problem of prostitution is a complex and 
special field and should be left to the specialist, we shall discuss 
additional features of the phenomenon, because they present 
great psychologic interest. 

One is the prostitute's relation to her pimp. If the con- 
nection between prostitution (as fantasy or profession) and 
masochistic tendencies is a psychologic construction, this 
relation proves that masochism plays a great part in the lite 
of the prostitute There is no girl practicing this profession 
who does not have a "protector." Attempts are made to 
interpret this institution too as a by-product of the social 
conditions of the prostitute. She is defenselessly exploited 
by the "madam." The "protector" (pimp) defends her 
against attacks coming from the outside world, like a father 
or older brother. But he himself exploits her in the most 
brutal manner, makes her work hard to increase his earnings, 
takes her money, whips and maltreats her while offering her 
the pleasures of love. The prostitute, frigid by profession, 
experiences the loftiest ecstasies of love after a masochistic 
orgy with her consistently brutal lover. She clings to him 
with the greatest tenderness, cares for him like a mother when 
he is sick, in need, or in danger; in short, she experiences with 
him all the happiness of womanly love. The only aberration 
here is that this happiness comes about under masochistic 

This relationship has features that are quite familiar to us. 
The man protecting the girl from the wicked woman is he 
not the same who in the pubescent girl's fantasy rescues her 


from the claws of the wicked witch, the knight of the fairy tale 
who frees her from the witch's enchantment? Let us recall 
the young girl's unconscious reproach against her father for 
not having saved her from her mother's power. We all know 
how often this role is ascribed also to the older brother, and 
how often he really does defend his little sister when her 
mother wants to punish her. And does not the girl boast 
of her "big brother's" strength to her friends, just as the little 
prostitute praises her muscular and frivolous "handsome 
Louis?" And, on the other hand, what older brother has not 
subjected his little sister to his own extremely humiliating 
aggression? And has not every woman passed through a 
phase during which she has again and again unconsciously 
provoked this mistreatment? 

Another figure present in the affective life of the prostitute 
is the "wicked woman," to whom the girl is often attached 
by the most intense hatred and yet by indissoluble ties of love. 
Observers dealing with the problem of prostitution often find 
it hard to understand why these girls are incapable of freeing 
themselves from the clutches of such women, even when they 
are given an opportunity to do so. What makes it impossible 
is the deeply masochistic love tie that exists between the 
prostitute and her "madam." Who would recognize, in these 
female dregs of human society, a variation of that ideal feminine 
figure for which the ecstatic pubescent girl felt such a wild 
love, a love usually mixed with pain and pleasure, and for 
which she wanted to suffer and yearn? 

7 he Spirit of 1 ' outh and the City Streets, by Jane Addams, 10 
whose pioneering work in the field of social welfare is known 
to everyone, contains life histories of women that are tragic 
examples of masochistic love bondage. Their heroism is fed 
by masochistic self-destructiveness, their love sacrifice stems 
from compulsive urges, and can naturally be understood only 
from psychologic experience. One story tells us of Molly, 

10 ADDAMS, J.: The spirit of youth and the city streets. New York: Macmillan, 1930, 
PP- 37-43- 


a young girl who married a professional criminal named Joe, 
He was imprisoned for two years. Molly was faithful to him 
for one year and then decided to get a divorce, which she 
obtained without difficulty. She married a wealthy and 
respectable man> moved to a well-to-do neighborhood, gave 
birth to a child, and was a good mother to it. All her dreams 
seemed to have been realized. One day while out airing her 
baby she learned that Joe had returned to their old apartment 
and was "mighty sore" at her for having deserted him. With- 
out a moment's hesitation she went back to him. She entered 
upon a life of misery and humiliation. She lived in the most 
sordid surroundings, moved from one furnished room to 
another, and was socially ostracized; Joe refused to remarry 
her, but she had a number of illegitimate children by him and 
asserted blissfully: "I am all right as long as Joe keeps out of 
the jug." She never expressed the slightest regret. 

Another charming young girl came quivering to Hull House, 
her tear-stained face swollen and bloody from the blows her 
lover had dealt her. "He is apt to abuse me when he is drunk," 
was the only explanation and that given by way of apology 
that could be extracted from her. 

She was not married, had no children, and her man beat her 
so violently that twice she almost died. The social workers 
wanted to help her and kept her at Hull House for a time. As 
soon as she had recovered a little, she insisted on being re- 
leased, saying that she had to clean up her place for Pierre, 
who was always very weak when he returned from his drinking 
bouts. Nobody could dissuade her from returning to him. 
She was enslaved by her masochism, the strongest of all forms 
of love. 

A great many of the psychologic problems that social 
agencies have to deal with in their women clients are based 
on such masochistic ties. The greatest difficulty in these 
problems is that they are usually much more unconscious and 
better rationalized than in the tragic cases quoted by Jane 
Addams. These women get in touch with welfare agencies 


only as a result of financial complications. Their psychic 
dependence is concealed behind the economic one; all attempts 
to help them fail because, even when freed of their external 
dependence, they again and again find skilfully rationalized 
ways of falling under the subjection of brutal, weak, or un- 
reliable men. It is especially when the man's unfaithfulness 
and the known existence of a mistress are involved, that all 
the efforts of the social worker are futile. Somehow or other, 
even after the situation has been financially rearranged, even 
after the apparently sincere wishes of the tormented woman to 
find peace and quiet have been satisfied, the old difficulties 
start all over again. Badly managed feminine masochism 
is a serious psychologic and often sociologic problem. 

Inasmuch as we consider the processes described here to be 
intensifications of "normal feminine psychologic states, we 
assume that woman is exposed to very great dangers in her 
development. At this point, however, we must anticipate a 
little. We have seen these processes as through a magnifying 
glass, and determined their typical properties, which are 
inherent in woman's disposition; but as yet we have not dis- 
cussed the methods by which the ego can master the dangers 
threatening it. 

The reader must further have been struck by the fact that the 
masochistic disposition is in the cases quoted here accompanied 
by a number of psychologic processes, the existence of which 
endows this disposition with its vitality and effectiveness. 
Memories are activated, reminiscences are assimilated, various 
unconscious justifications are invoked, numerous individual 
impressions are used, and, above all, identifications are pro- 
duced as an important motive for fantasy formations and 
real actions. All these elements are joined by aggressive forces 
that are completely outside the "masochistic turn," while their 
participation often becomes the factor that touches off the 

These additional elements are responsible for an "overflow" 
of the masochistic tendencies. This overflow can take place 


under various conditions. Direct environmental influences 
can contribute to it, or experiences that intensify the aggressive 
tendencies; these can then turn against the individual's own 
ego. We have also seen the great part played by identifica- 
tion and we know that this process is particularly important 
in puberty. But what most contributes to the overflow of 
feminine masochism and gives it its self-destructive character 
is moral masochism, that is, the sense of guilt and its effects. 
Here a fundamental difference between man and woman mani- 
fests itself. When we encounter a passive-masochistic, feminine 
orientation in a man, we fairly always find that it came about 
under the pressure of guilt feelings and that his "moral mas- 
ochism' 1 acquired feminine erotic character only secondarily. 
This is reversed in women: in them feminine masochism is 
primary and moral masochism is secondary. The latter then 
sails under the false flag of eroticism and appears as such, 
but its destructive character gives it away. A classic example 
is the case of Molly cited by Jane Addams, in which we were 
allowed to see only the power of love and could only guess the 
effects of a cruel sense of guilt. 

In milder cases it is even more difficult to draw a sharp line. 
Experienced social workers try to discover the secondary 
psychologic motives that wrecked the lives of these women; 
but it is not always possible to master these motives. Woman's 
masochistic-erotic subjection shows extreme variations in 
intensity, and as long as it produces more gratification than 
grief it is difficult to influence her. We shall not deal here 
with the problem of mastering feminine masochism compli- 
cated by other elements (especially moral masochism). This 
belongs to the theory of the neuroses. 

Let us now clearly formulate the questions that we still have 
to answer. We have assumed the presence of an inhibiting 
process in woman's development, and we want to discover 
how she can employ the passive-masochistic psychic energies 
that dwell in her ego while at the same time avoiding dangers 
tor her personality. 


In discussing puberty, we have purposely dealt first with 
those processes that take place outside the sphere of instinct 
development. The human ego is endowed with a vast self- 
love that, under relatively normal conditions, suffices to pre- 
vent a self-destructive action. We have seen that puberty 
is the period in which narcissistic self-love is at its height; we 
also assign the intensification and mobilization of feminine 
masochism to the same period. It seems that in normal 
development, that is to say, if the processes are not exces- 
sively intense, we can rely on the ability of the self-loving 
ego to escape all existing dangers. 

By what methods does the ego achieve this? The simplest 
and most direct way is the method we have seen used by the 
normal young girl. She sublimates the erotic urge, thus 
indirectly bringing the masochistic component under narcis- 
sistic control and gratifying it without danger. She op- 
poses the masturbatory rape fantasy with all the weapons 
against masturbation that she has at her disposal, I believe 
that normally masturbation is automatically given up in child- 
hood and puberty, if the ego, absorbed in other outside in- 
terests, renounces the gratification of the urge. The ego 
behaves like the educator who diverts the child from masturba- 
tory procedures by other activities rather than by threatening 
or inflicting punishments. This diversion does not always 
succeed and then there arise all the struggles around mastur- 
bation that we see as mainly responsible for the difficulties 
of puberty and that result in neurotic conflicts. We shall not 
discuss these conflicts here; we shall only recall the anxiety 
dreams, anxiety states, and various other temporary symptoms 
that remind us of these struggles even in normal conditions. 

Sublimation of sexuality into eroticism is a process that 
outlasts adolescence and is a permanent component of feminine 
psychologic life. We have described one of the typical results 
of this process as a definite form of a sublimation in which 
the distribution of forces between the narcissistic ego and 
feminine masochism leads to complete harmony. We have 
called this process "intensification of inner life," and "activity 


directed inward/' The prerequisite ot such a harmonious 
development is that no psychologic component contributing 
to it should overflow, and particularly that guilt feelings, 
moral masochism, should not exert any disturbing influence. 
It seems that this harmony depends to a great extent upon the 
overcoming of a surplus of aggressions; above all, the girl's 
hatred and fear of her mother must yield to a feeling of love 
and tenderness. 

What the woman belonging to our erotic type achieves 
through love, other women achieve by more circuitous, more 
social paths. The willingness to serve a cause or a human 
being with love and abnegation may be a reflection of feminine 
masochism. Here too, just as when it takes a direct sexual 
turn, it can overstep the normal limits: then the woman 
gladly exposes herself to privations, sufferings, and even the 
danger of death. In her contempt for the dangers that 
threaten her, she experiences just like the erotic type of 
woman in her more normal manner two gratifications: mas- 
ochism assumes the false name of heroism, and the ego draws 
great advantages trom this situation, particularly in satisfying 
its self-love. Thus, in both cases, there is created a possibility 
of compromise between self-injury and self-love, that is, 
between masochism and narcissism. 

Often the masochistic readiness for sacrifice is a mask for 
sadistic impulses that must be avoided for fear of loss of love 
in the outside world and the inner sense of guilt. Here we no 
longer have feminine masochism, although it is not always easy 
to see the difference. How often we encounter women who 
have failed to achieve a harmonious overcoming of their maso- 
chism and who strike us as neurotic characters of a definite 
type. They cannot live without narcissistic gratification, but 
every form of it, whether in love or in ambition, is so shot 
through with masochistic motives that they must shy away 
from any fulfillment. They confess their helplessness, com- 
plain of their futile efforts to find something to satisfy them 
either in love or in activity. Outwardly their lives do not 
seem neurotic, nor do they directly seek suffering, which would 


reveal their behavior to be really masochistic. On the con- 
trary, because of their very avoidance of direct masochistic 
dangers, their lives are empty, without content; their masoch- 
ism asserts itself in the form of a renunciation of the positive 
values of life. 

Another type we encounter frequently is that of the woman 
who, in order to avoid and to gratify her masochistic wishes, 
uses methods acquired in adolescence and preserved in matur- 
ity. She lets herself be seduced by the delusions and sublima- 
tions of eroticism. She is inclined to have a forbidden or 
secret dream that permits her to forget and repress her daily 
privations. She is induced to take part in ideologic move- 
ments, often of a very abstract nature, and indulges in fantasies 
about the importance and grandeur of her activities, only to 
suffer disappointments again and again. As such women 
are often endowed with excellent critical minds, it is clear that 
some sort of unconscious motive must be at work in their 
behavior. Most often the motive is unconscious masochism 
that has not been normally assimilated because of its excessive 
intensity. In men we find similar situations only in adoles- 
cence or in states of serious neurosis. In women this is possible 
with a simultaneously existing good adjustment to reality; 
above all, it is much more general and frequent, ^he attraction 
of suffering is incomparably stronger for women than for men. 

Women are often prone to expressions of the most active 
indignation. They often participate in violent anonymous 
protests and join revolutionary movements. Most of the time 
they are unconsciously protesting against their own fate. By 
identifying themselves with the socially oppressed or the 
nonpossessing class, they take up a position against their own 
unsatisfying role. In many women this expresses a kind of "mas- 
culine protest" and their sublimated and socialized dissatis- 
faction with their feminine destiny. If one has an opportunity 
to observe these women and is not misled by the part played 
by the masculinity complex, great as it may be, one learns 
that they have strongly masochistic pasts and have often 
experienced rea! masochistic tyranny. In the childhood 


history of these women we find tyrannical fathers, and their 
sublimated activity is unconsciously directed against those 
who oppressed their mothers and limited their own freedom. 
It is interesting to note that the revolutionary woman leaders 
of the anti-tsarist movement, for example, were often daughters 
of authoritarian generals or and this only an apparent con- 
tradiction oppressed minor officials. They were all distin- 
guished by an extraordinary readiness for sacrifice and a need 
to suffer for their ideas. In their love life they were either ab- 
solutely ascetic and had no erotic interests, because they had 
devoted all their femininity to the cause, or else they here too 
suffered the torments of longing and privation because their 
work as a rule actually separated them from their lovers; 
sometimes they devotedly and masochistically loved their 
own leaders and often had real affairs with them. In the 
behavior of daughters of passively tolerant fathers, identifica- 
tion with these fathers plays a part, for these women have 
actively taken up suppressed protests of the latter. Precisely 
such women usually seek and find a "tyrant" for a lover, 
and he gives them what their fathers failed to give them. 

In some women repressed masochism emerges far from its 
sources; others catch up directly with a masochism that they 
formerly failed to gratify. This most powerful factor of 
femininity asserts itself directly in some, by detours in others; 
in erotic love in some, under a mask of masculinity in others. 
At this point psychologic insight inevitably comes close to 
value judgments. It is not a matter of indifference whether 
woman employs her surplus masochism for prostitution or for 
impressive heroism, just as it is not a matter of indifference 
whether a man as a result of his exuberant ^active-aggressive 
forces becomes a gangster or a hero in the service of a great 
idea. Nor is it one and the same thing whether the narcis- 
sistic guardian, by repelling masochism, contributes to the inner 
harmony of the erotic woman, or renounces direct gratification 
by permitting the masochistic sacrifice for an impersonal aim. 
In women whose achievements for society are great, one can 
often observe the harmonious operation of the two com- 


ponents in areas remote from eroticism. What strikes one for 
example in the diary of Vera Figner, 11 the Russian revolu- 
tionary, is the fact that the word "I" is seldom used in an 
egotistic sense. It always represents a part of a whole; the 
personal achievement is modestly concealed behind the heroism 
of the movement. The psychologist should not be misled by 
his knowledge of the sources and mechanisms of psychologic 
phenomena and should appraise them according to their 
social value. 

The little stenographer who worships her boss, whoever he 
may be, and who bears with him in his worst moods, allegedly 
in order to keep her job, the sensitive woman who cannot 
leave her brutal husband because she loves him "despite" 
(actually because of) his brutality, and the active and talented 
woman collaborator who devotes all her intuitive gifts to her 
master's productions, are all happy in these roles and repress 
their erotic longings. The Slavic peasant woman who lets 
her drunken husband beat her and declares sadly, "He does 
not love me, he has stopped beating me/' the heroine and 
the prostitute all of them are happy or wretched according 
to the extent of their feminine masochism and the degree to 
which they can utilize and assimilate it. The success or failure 
of this assimilation determines whether the woman develops 
a harmonious femininity, becomes neurotic, or forms a patho- 
logic masochistic personality. 

In all the examples we have given, the borderline between 
"normal" and "pathologic" is fluid. What is common to 
both is the fact that whatever the form that the masochistic 
component may assume, it remains completely unconscious as 
a source or condition of pleasure. Even those whose masoch- 
ism is quantitatively far beyond the "normal" limit are not 
aware of the fact that they provoke the masochistic situation 
or bear up with it because of not in spite of the suffering it 
brings them. 

In one of her functions woman must have a certain amount 
of masochism if she is to be adjusted to reality. This is the 

11 FICNER, V.: Nacht uber Russland. Berlin: Malik, 1928. 


reproductive function: from beginning to the end, even where 
it most serves the purpose of pleasure, it requires toleration of 
considerable pain. The real dangers inherent in woman's 
service to the species impel her to assimilate her feminine mas- 
ochism and her human anxiety. This achievement seems to 
run counter to the individual striving for pleasure. In the 
functions of the genital apparatus, two contradictory interests, 
that of the individual who strives for pleasure and that of the 
species, involving pain, must be unified. They can become 
connected only if pain is endowed with the character of pleas- 
ure. Woman's entire psychologic preparation for the sexual 
and reproductive functions is connected with masochistic 
ideas. 12 In these ideas, coitus is closely associated with the 
act of defloration, and defloration with rape and a painful 
penetration of the body. The sexual readiness, the psychologic 
pleasure-affirming preparation for the sexual act, draws its 
masochistic components from two sources one infantile, 
regressive, and dispositional, and the other real. For deflora- 
tion is really painful and involves the destruction of a part 
of the body. The rape fantasy reveals itself as only an exag- 
geration of reality. Acceptance of pain associated with pleas- 
ure, or of pleasure associated with pain, may result in such a 
close connection between the two that the sexual pleasure 
becomes dependent on pain. Thus feminine sexuality ac- 
quires a masochistic character. Actually a certain amount of 
masochism as psychologic preparation for adjustment to the 
sexual functions is necessary in woman, but it is clear that the 
danger of "too much," and of pathologic distortion, arises 
from this situation. 

The second motive for the association between pain and 
pleasure derives directly from the reproductive function. All 
the conscious and unconscious fantasies relating to childbirth, 
in all its phases, have throughout a painful and dangerous 
character. As a result, the wish for a child acquires a maso- 
chistic character through being closely associated with the 
fantasies. Here again it is the reality of labor pains and of 

18 DEUTSCH, H.: The significance of masochism in the mental life of women. 


the whole bloody process of birth that endows masochism 
with the function of adjustment to reality. And here there 
is the same danger of pathologic distortion. The pleasure in 
the child may be replaced by the pain of childbirth and the 
sufferings of motherhood, and thus the whole reproductive 
function is given an abnormally masochistic character. 

Woman's relation to her genitals, the scar of the genital 
trauma, the emotional components of the female castration 
complex, of which we shall speak later, as well as menstruation, 
naturally contribute to the masochistic character of her sexual 

Thus, we see that masochism plays a dual role in the feminine 
sexual and reproductive functions: on the one hand, it helps 
in the adjustment to reality through the necessary consent to 
pain; on the other hand, an excess of masochism naturally 
provokes a defense, and, fleeing from the dangers of an exces- 
sive masochism, woman turns away from her tasks, from her 
femininity. Masochism will then have the same effect as an 
abnormally intensified sensitivity to pain produced by exces- 
sive self-love. This sensitivity mobilizes a defense that can 
result in all sorts of disturbances of the feminine functions. 
Thus, fear of pain may stem either from excessive masochism 
or the excessive narcissistic intolerance of the ego, which 
refuses to accept any discomfort. Each of these two important 
factors of the psyche, masochism and narcissism, may work 
against the requirements of the reproductive function. Thus 
the destiny of woman as the servant of reproduction likewise 
depends on the harmonious cooperation of masochism and 
narcissism. 18 

11 At this point I should like to defend my previous work against a misinterpretation. 
K. Homey contends that I regard feminine masochism as an "elemental power in 
feminine mental life" and that, according to my view, "what woman ultimately 
wants in intercourse is to be raped and violated; what she wants in mental life is 
to be humiliated." It is true that I consider masochism "an elemental power in 
feminine life," but in my previous studies and also in this one I have tried to show 
that one of woman's tasks is to govern this masochism, to steer it into the right 
paths, and thus to protect herself against those dangers that Horney thinks I con- 
sider woman's "normal" lot. Cf. K. Horney: New ways in psychoanalysis. 
New York: Norton, 1938, p. no. 


The "Active" Woman: 
The Masculinity Complex 

WE HAVE tried to define our concept of femininity 
and have done so in terms that seem to contradict 
several accepted facts and can therefore be of value 
only after these latter have been clarified. 

One of our psychoanalytic concepts that seems still to need 
further clarification is that of the masculinity complex in 
women, and the popular and yet provoking and objectionable 
this not without reason concept of penis envy. 

To femininity, as we have defined it, we ascribe the role of 
a nucleus that combines biologic, physiologic, anatomic, and 
psychologic elements. The organic factors are relatively 
constant; the psychologic factors vary with the individual, ac- 
cording to her inner processes and the influence of the en- 

Although the interaction of all these elements results in great 
individual variations, the nucleus crystallizes from their com- 
bined effects. It forms the quintessence of femininity. Var- 
ious and multiform additional elements come to join it, some 
of which may figure in the constant psychic inventory of the 
feminine personality. Other psychic phenomena arising from 
conflicts, compromises, defense mechanisms, etc., can be called 
"marginal phenomena," because they move away from the 
central core, yet are typical and frequent. If the mental 
ingredients outside femininity are not in a harmonious relation 
with the feminine core, insoluble conflicts arise, these being 
manifested in neurotic phenomena. Sometimes a subsidiary 
element may succeed in occupying the central position and 
endow the woman with a less feminine character that is not, 
however, necessarily abnormal or pathologic. 



We have identified certain tendencies with femininity. It 
a trait we ascribe to femininity is occasionally found in a man, 
it is recognized as feminine. A relatively large degree of 
passivity, for example, lends a man a feminine character as a 
subsidiary result of abnormal psychic processes. 

In so far as the direct manifestations of sexuality are con- 
cerned, the principle of what might be called division of labor 
is clearly prescribed organically; that is to say, activity is the 
share of man, passivity that of woman. Here too, it must 
be emphasized, passivity does not mean apathy or lack of 
sexual energy. This energy may even be quantitatively very 
large; in that case it manifests itself in the intensity of passive- 
receptive readiness. Likewise with masochism: if we find a 
large amount of it in a man, we rightly derive it from his 
sense of guilt, and understand it as moral masochism. In 
contrast to this, female masochism is integrated with the 
woman's personality, is assimilable and capable of being 
definitively sublimated, so that it hardly emerges as an in- 
dependent factor. Only when it reaches an excessive intensity 
can it come into conflict with the rest of the woman's personal- 
ity and be regarded as a pathologic phenomenon. 

We have conceived the realization of femininity as a result 
of the "turn" of active-aggressive forces. For the sake of 
greater clarity and to avoid possible misunderstanding, we 
shall briefly summarize our idea of the processes involved. 

Our view of the girl's early childhood rejects the psycho- 
analytic hypothesis that the young girl in this period is mas- 
culine. Direct observation shows that the girl from the very 
beginning has pronounced feminine traits. Nevertheless, there 
is considerable similarity between children of both sexes; 
this results not, however, from their being both masculine, 
but from the fact that definitive differentiation takes place 
later. This identity is both passive and active; the first kind 
predominates. Children of both sexes are suckled at the 
mother's breast, have to be taught to be! clean, restrict their 
object relations to one person (the mother), have aggressive 
impulses, and adjust themselves to reality by similar devices. 


The definite differentiation of the sexes occurs in the phase 
in which the increasing activity of the instincts and of the ego 
meets with different outcomes in the girl and the boy. The 
boy's task is to get rid of the aggressive ingredient and for the 
time being to put all his active tendencies at the disposal of the 
ego and its adjustment to reality. Through experiencing the 
disorders and anxieties of his development, the boy finally 
achieves normal boyish activity in the outside world. His 
aggressive and actively genital instinctual tendencies show him 
the way; he is aided by educational measures and his own urge 
to master reality. Gradually he grows less dependent upon 
his instinctual impulses. Parallel with his instinctual develop- 
ment, his ego is formed, and if the result of his progress is 
favorable, he can turn his active forces toward the outside 

The same striving for activity also characterizes the little 
girl's ego. But in contrast to the boy's situation, the active 
and aggressive forces of the girl are subjected to external 
and internal inhibition. All the factors involved biologic- 
constitutional, anatomic, and environmental combine to 
produce this inhibition. At this point we must correct and 
supplement our previous exposition: this inhibition is only 
partial. Many of the active and aggressive forces are pre- 
served as positive ingredients of feminine mental life. As a rule 
they are harmoniously integrated into the total structure, even 
if we assign to them the character of masculinity. In this 
interpretation, the "feminine core" is a product of inhibition 
that is accompanied by a number of uninhibited active and 
aggressive tendencies. To achieve equilibrium, a system 
must be built in which these tendencies lead not to abnormal 
phenomena, but to normal and positive results. By this we 
mean that woman's activity acquires an abnormal and disturb- 
ing character if it comes into conflict with the rest of her 
personality, that is to say, with the feminine core. Only then 
can we speak of the masculinity complex. But before discuss- 
ing this, let us examine woman's normal activity. What are 
its sources and aims? We are particularly interested in the 


activity of the ego, which reveals itself as an inherent force in 
psychic development. 

We have seen before that the increasing urge to master 
reality plays an extraordinarily important part in causing 
children of both sexes to turn away from their mothers toward 
their fathers. We have also learned that in the ego's drive 
toward adulthood, identification with the active mother proves 
a useful instrument in the girl's development toward active 
aims. The active mother is for the little girl the prototype 
of the active tendencies associated with motherhood. The 
identification with this active mother is for the most part ex- 
pressed in the little girl's games, and is shown in her relation- 
ship with her younger siblings, with little animals, dolls, etc. 
We cannot be sure whether this is a psychologic or biologic 
factor in which, even in childhood, something like the maternal 
instinct is involved. At any rate the activity we see in the 
little girl as a product of her identification with the active 
mother acquires a permanent psychologic representation, which 
lends woman a definite character. Actually it is always there, 
and is particularly intensified in puberty, when it is a new mani- 
festation that we have called the harbinger of motherhood. 
The nature of this activity is very characteristic, and its con- 
tent goes beyond having children and nursing and rearing them; 
it is closely akin to those attitudes by which the little girl dis- 
tinguishes herself from the little boy at an early date. The 
preliminary signs of the difference between the sexes are clearly 
discernible in children's games. The little male's activity is 
directed outward; forward aspiring movement, repeated addi- 
tions from the outside to things built, and eventual destruction 
of them, characterize the boy. The little female builds houses 
in order always to put something inside them, to close gates 
and carefully preserve what has been built. Her games have 
the character of nest-building activity, of putting things in 
order and keeping them together. 

When this form of activity takes the central role in the frame- 
work of the personality, a feminine type develops that under 


suitable cultural conditions is identical with that of the active 
"domineering" mother. The nature of this woman's activity 
is not necessarily intellectual, her personal aspirations are not 
particularly ambitious or competitive with regard to men. 
She creates an atmosphere of will power and certainty of pur- 
pose that predisposes her to matriarchy. 

This feminine type is closest to that which we have called the 
erotic-active. It differs from this latter chiefly in the fact that 
the erotic and passive components are weaker, but, in common 
with our feminine type, this woman, in addition to her greater 
outward activity, develops an activity directed inward, which, 
however, serves aims other than erotic ones. Because her ac- 
tivity is of a motherly character, she is predisposed, under suit- 
able social conditions, to have many children or to create 
substitute products in activities intended to take the place of 
direct motherhood. She founds childrens' homes and nurseries, 
on a small or large scale, real or symbolic. Along with this, as 
an expression of her activity directed inward, she has a deep 
religiousness, not always of an institutional character. She 
has cultural and ideologic interests and her values are conserv- 
ative. She usually lacks revolutionary impetus, but is capable 
of decisive actions in support of her values such as they are. In 
families with this type of mother there prevails a kind of 
matriarchate, for the mother not only rules in the home but 
also directs the fate of her kin. In brief, she is the same 
woman that Bachofen, the discoverer of the institution of 
matriarchy, found in early human history. 1 

While today this figure acts under different cultural condi- 

1 BACHOFEN, J. J.: Mutterrecht und Urreligion. Leipzig: Koerner. We need not 
take sides here in the polemics over the historical correctness of Bachofen's 
theories. It may be disputed whether there ever existed a "telluric gynecocracy," 
with the mother at the head of the social order, and Bachofen's presentation of the 
evidence may be subjective and open to question. But there is no doubt that such 
a powerful mother figure exists in myths and various very ancient fantasy forma- 
tions. We are indebted for an interesting study of these problems to Beata Rank: 
Zur Rolle der Frau in der Entwicklung der menschlichen Gesellschaft. Imago, 
vol. 10, 1924. 


tions, she represents the same mother principle, which has a deep 
psychologic foundation. She bears witness to the fact that 
although in the course of human history various forms of life 
and social organization have been discarded and replaced by 
new ones, and religions, ideals, and ethical commandments and 
valuations have changed, certain psychic features in the devel- 
opment of the individual have remained for centuries unin- 
fluenced by all these outer transformations. 

These features combine into units, sometimes in myths, 
sometimes in highly differentiated cultural organizations; some 
of them emerge, others disappear, to reappear again later. 

The following lines are from Bachofen's Mutterrecht und Ur- 
reliqion ("Matriarchy and Primitive Religion"): 

More ancient than the male prophet is feminine prophecy; more constant 
in loyalty, firmer in faith is the feminine soul; woman, weaker than man, is 
nevertheless occasionally capable of rising far above him; she is more conserv- 
ative, particularly in cults and when it comes to the preservation of the 
ceremonial element. . . . Traced back to the prototype of Demeter, the 
earthly mother becomes, as it were, the mortal representative of the telluric 
primeval mother, her priestess, and as hierophantic priestess, is entrusted 
with the administration of her mysteries. The religious primacy of birth- 
giving motherhood leads to that of the mortal woman. . . . The mysterious 
constitutes the true nature of every religion, and wherever woman plays a 
leading part in the cult and in life, she shows a bias for the mysterious. This 
is warranted by her natural disposition, which indissolubly connects the sen- 
sual and the suprasensual, by her close kinship with the life of nature and 
with matter, whose eternal death first arouses in her the need of a comforting 

Thus, the Demeter mother rule is, according to Bachoten, 
associated with the cultivation and development of the mys- 
terious, the supernatural, the religious, and is distinguished by 
the appearance of sublime priestly feminine figures. The 
gynecocratic civilization consecrates motherhood and is charac- 
terized by an intensification of the mystic, the religious, and 
similar elements; woman in it is the severe guardian of the 
mysteries, of law and peace. 

This is the prototype of that active-motherly woman who 


has a primitive feminine quality in her spirituality. This qual- 
ity constitutes a bridge between her and the inwardly erotic- 
feminine woman, even though the two are essentially different. 

We emphasize again that our classifications are intended only 
for purposes of exposition; when we speak of types it is always 
with the reservation that pure types are almost nonexistent, 
and that in each real type one can always find traits of another, 
sometimes directly opposite type. Thus, among our active- 
feminine types we often encounter women who, for all their 
eligibility to be chiefs of a matriarchy, display tendencies that 
do not quite tally with the pure type: indeed, such "impure" 
traits sometimes manifest themselves even in women of Bacho- 
fen's matriarchy. Even in the period of her domination, 
woman, weaker than man, displays an inclination, arising from 
her feeling of weakness, to subject the stronger sex through 
religious influences and moral values. "Equipped with such 
forces the weaker sex was enabled to undertake the struggle 
against the stronger one and to triumph." In exactly the same 
way, without being conscious of their aims, the modern repre- 
sentative of this type of woman often supports tendencies that 
serve to weaken and enslave man. It is no accident that the 
husbands of such women, although living in a patriarchal civili- 
zation and having all paternal rights and duties, are very often 
pushed out of the role of the forceful father. Nor is it an acci- 
dent that the sons of these women, full of reverence and admi- 
ration for their active mothers and accepting their lofty ideology, 
remain passive, feminine, and strongly dependent upon them. 
It seems that when woman's activity goes beyond a definite 
degree of intensity, it is accompanied by forces that inhibit the 
activity of the persons in her entourage and thus becomes dan- 
gerous especially for the male members of the family. 

Similarity to the primitive matriarchy in many families goes 
so far that the daughters inherit not the material goods of the 
family as in primitive society, but the spiritual goods. The 
men carry on their business outside the home, pursue money, 
exhaust themselves in competitive struggles, while the women 


mothers and daughters cultivate spiritual values in religious, 
intellectual, or artistic fields. 

So long as their environment accepts the motherly-active 
women in this role, they are not subject to the manifestations 
of the masculinity complex. Only when their motherly activity 
is inhibited from outside do reactions appear that point to a 
large number of aggressions. These are often concealed behind 
depressive moods or lead to alterations of character that are 
contrary to thoughtful, self-sacrificing motherliness. 

It seems that as a rule, despite its motherly-feminine form, 
woman's activity, if it oversteps definite limits, leads to the 
renunciation of feminine-erotic experiences or to the restriction 
of her capacity for them. 

It is difficult to decide whether we should infer from this that 
increased activity always develops at the expense of the other 
elements of femininity; there is no doubt that frequently the 
sensual attraction of the motherly woman is unfavorably influ- 
enced by her active behavior. But here as elsewhere one must 
not indulge in generalizations. 

The disposition to this type is founded, as we have said, in the 
successful identification with an active mother. Thus the turn 
toward passivity assumed a milder form, the aggressive tend- 
encies were poured into a specific kind of activity. 

We have seen that the prepuberal activity thrust constituted 
an offensive that, independently of the sexual instinctual ten- 
dencies, aimed at the conquest of reality. This intensified 
activity may outlast the girl's turn toward passivity, a process 
that takes place in puberty. The woman "colleague" or 
"comrade," the ambitious or "pushing" type, can preserve her 
femininity provided that even in her unconscious she does not 
make her activity depend on the condition of masculinity. 
Sometimes she behaves like the little girl we have mentioned 
before, who insisted on playing with boys as their equal only in 
order to be whipped from time to time. Later the situation 
takes place in the conscious erotic experience, and the whip- 
ping loses its literal meaning. 


Another form of woman's activity stems from her active 
identification with her father, in which she renounces her 
feminine-erotic role and achieves a satisfactory sublimation; 
the fact that she is not a man does not give her any inferiority 
feelings in this situation. Here too femininity is in danger: 
sometimes it splits off from the sublimated elements and, as we 
have mentioned above, assumes an overpassive and overmaso- 
chistic character. In other cases, it is gratified by detours (for 
instance, through professional activity of a motherly-feminine 
character, like pedagogy, etc.). This identification, which 
comes to the fore especially in puberty, as a link in the normal 
development, can also become the starting point of compli- 

Active-erotic behavior, coquetry, for instance, is part ot 
feminine equipment, but paradoxically enough, it is precisely 
here that the borderline between active and aggressive is very 
fluid. The feminine-erotic woman practices her art of seduc- 
tion in an unconscious, more passive manner. Active provoca- 
tive coquetry is generally felt to be an aggression. Circe and 
Lorelei only wear the mask of femininitv just like their modern 
counterpart, the "vamp." It is interesting to note that 
conversely also a woman's aggression can constitute a flight and 
a mask for deeply feminine instinctual desires that are danger- 
ous for her and are therefore repressed. And what is repressed 
often re-emerges in a tragic fashion. A wonderful illustration 
of this is the figure of Carmen, the Spanish cigarette worker, 
immortalized in Bizet's opera. Probably based on a real char- 
acter, she is the heroine of numerous popular tales and short 
stories (the best known of these is by Prosper Merimee). An 
infinite feminine narcissistic charm is always ascribed to her, 
by means of which she catches masculine hearts only to play a 
cruel sadistic game with them. 

How is it possible that so much cruelty and heartlessness does 
not scandalize us and lead us to reject her fascination? The 
reason is that while following her destiny we constantly feel that 
Carmen directs the weapon of her aggressions not only against 


other people, but also and principally against herself, to gratify 
her own cruel masochism. Sadistically enjoying the torment of 
others, she at the same time masochistically enjoys her own 
panic fear of the ultimate outcome that she herself prepares with 
iron fatality. In this clandestine anticipated enjoyment lies the 
whole subtle power of the masochistic impulse. How easily 
and quickly Carmen could have died at the hand of the torero; 
but she chooses a passive, powerless man for the slow seduction 
to murder. The flight and reconciliation with the weak soldier 
and the certainty of the desired end attract Carmen as a child 
is attracted by the cruel play with a fly whose wings are to be 
torn oft. In this case, the fly is her own feminine heart burning 
in masochistic desire. 

Many women feminine women are deeply stirred by Car- 
men's fate and sometimes sobbingly confess their identity 
with her. It would be a mistake to think that they consider 
themselves like her in the charm with which she seduces men 
or in her cold-blooded sadism. What stirs up the unconscious 
in these women is Carmen's archfeminine, tragically whipped- 
up masochism. 

In "modern-minded" circles the view seems to prevail that 
woman's passivity in sexual matters is outmoded and that now 
it is the woman who chooses the object and takes the sexual 
initiative. Such behavior goes against biologic and psycho- 
logic laws. Those who regard it as an expression of a social- 
evolutionary development are the victims of an illusion. What 
takes place here is not, as is believed, the "liberation" of woman 
from a social evil that condemns her to passivity. In the light 
of psychology, this reversal of roles can be seen in many cases as 
arising from the interplay of two anxieties: women use activity 
as a mechanism of defense against the fear of their passivity, 
just as Carmen uses her excessive aggression against masochism. 
Men escape the responsibility and effort connected with active 
wooing. Apparent progress conceals the neurotic disturbance 
of both sexes. 

When we speak of woman's activity we often add the adjec- 


tive "masculine." Yet we assume the existence of a feminine 
activity; thus we seem to fall into a contradiction. Neverthe- 
less the two notions are connected because of their genesis, the 
history of their development, and their affinity with aggressive 
instinctual components. These components lead the boy in 
a straight line to masculinity; in the girl they are subjected to 
an inhibition. The remaining active forces in woman, under 
definite conditions, also reveal their masculine origin, especially 
when they are accompanied by stronger aggressive tendencies. 
As we have seen, the final differentiation of the two sexes into 
masculine and feminine is preceded by a bisexual phase that 
leaves more or less strong traces in both. Our psychoanalytic 
investigations show that usually we are confronted here by a 
psychologic process, whether or not it is founded on a biologic 
This brings us to woman's masculinity complex. 

In our view, the masculinity complex is characterized by the 
predominance of active and aggressive tendencies that lead to 
conflicts with the woman's environment and above all with the 
remaining feminine inner world. The various forms of these 
conflicts determine various types. In its most primitive mani- 
festation, masculinity appears as the direct enemy of feminine 
tendencies, disturbing their function. Such disturbances 
manifest themselves especially in the affective life as well as in 
all specifically feminine phases of life (menstruation, pregnancy, 
childbirth, etc.) Here again we may encounter a vicious circle: 
fear of femininity mobilizes the masculine tendencies, which in 
their turn increase the disturbance. As this fear chiefly relates 
to the reproductive functions, it is not surprising that in the 
pathology of these we often find manifestations of the mascu- 
linity complex. From a therapeutic point of view it is impor- 
tant to realize that the masculinity complex often conceals not 
a protest against but a fear of the feminine functions. 

Another form of the conflict between femininity and mascu- 
linity results from the fact that the woman's psychologic 


interest is here turned toward aims in the pursuit of which 
femininity is felt as troublesome and is rejected. Here a feel- 
ing of inferiority may develop, stemming from the perception 
that the feminine components of the personality hinder achieve- 
ment of the desired aims. In this case, the manifestations of 
the masculinity complex may assume a more depressive charac- 
ter: the woman feels that she is inefficient, that she will never 
achieve her ends. 

In other cases, the masculine-active forces are to a great 
extent successfully sublimated, but this is accomplished either 
at the expense of feminine values or in constant conflict with 
them. The simplest example of such a conflict is provided by 
the mother who, after each success she achieves in her profes- 
sional activity, or after each ambition-gratifying situation, 
instead of feeling satisfaction, is tormented by guilt feelings 
with regard to her children. This category also includes those 
women who constantly waver between two kinds of duties 
those of wife and mother on the one hand, and those of a profes- 
sional career on the other and who find satisfaction in neither. 
The clash between these two kinds of real duties is usually 
caused by a displacement of a deeper emotional conflict to a 
reality situation. The active woman actually does transfer 
to other goals psychic energies that she otherwise would spend 
directly on the objects of her environment, particularly on her 
children. And, conversely, not all her psychic energies are 
available for these goals, because, as a woman, she has spent 
them emotionally on more direct object relations. 

More complicated and veiled is the masculinity complex in 
those women who have brilliantly succeeded in sublimating 
their masculine activity but are not aware of the fact that they 
have paid a high price for it in their feminine values. Woman's 
intellectuality is to a large extent paid for by the loss of valuable 
feminine qualities: it feeds on the sap of the affective life and 
results in impoverishment of this life either as a whole or in 
specific emotional qualities. The intellectual woman is not 
Autonoe, the Wise One, who draws her wisdom from the deep 


sources of intuition, for intuition is God's gift to the feminine 
woman; everything relating to exploration and cognition, all 
the forms and kinds of human cultural aspiration that require 
a strictly objective approach, are with few exceptions the 
domain of the masculine intellect, of man's spiritual power, 
against which woman can rarely compete. All observations 
point to the fact that the intellectual woman is masculinized; in 
her, warm intuitive knowledge has yielded to cold unproductive 
thinking. To her particularly Goethe's saying applies: 

Believe me, a fellow who speculates 
Is like a beast on an arid heath, 
Led 'round in circles by an evil spirit 
While close by a green meadow lies. 

The "green meadow" stands here for feminine affectivity, and 
the "arid heath" for the speculating intellectuality to which 
woman is led by her masculinity complex. 

Innumerable types of intellectual-masculine women could be 
cited; we shall mention one of them particularly, for we en- 
counter this woman rather frequently, and she is quite interest- 
ing. A comparison of this type with other, feminine types of 
women brings her psychic structure into clear relief. She 
replaces the charming warmth of the feminine-erotic woman by 
flattery. Usually she does not compete with men, for she is 
intelligent enough to realize the limitations of her talents. She 
tries to achieve superiority over other, often more talented 
women through being respected and appreciated by men as their 
equal. She likes to show her identification with men, but unlike 
the feminine woman, she proposes to do so not by intuitive 
sympathy, but by a kind of shrewd grasp of masculine ideas and 
a flattering appreciation of them. Her intellectuality moves 
within limited forms; she often succeeds in reproducing respect- 
ably the achievements of others, thanks to a formal talent (as 
reviewer, orator, teacher, etc.). She explains her lack of 
productivity, of which she is not unconscious, by inhibitions 
from which she hopes to free herself. 


The masculinity complex of this intellectual type usually has 
a specific origin: it comes into being indirectly as a result of 
thwarted femininity. A comparison with the active-motherly 
woman will further clarify our point: the latter is the Demeter 
type of woman, whose strong mother-daughter relationship, 
identification witli the active mother, has endowed all her 
personality with its specific character. The intellectual woman 
of the nonfeminine type discussed here has no mother in the 
psychologic sense of the term. She is, continuing our my thologic 
parallel, like Pallas Athene, the woman born out of her father's 
head. She also differs from the active woman mentioned above 
in whom identification with the father may play a part, by the 
fact that her own ego has been extremely impoverished through 
the elimination of the mother. Interestingly enough, the child- 
hood history of this type shows no competitive or jealous 
attitude toward her brothers, as we might expect. On the 
contrary, she is allied with her brothers, after the manner of 
Pallas Athene. This alliance is usually motivated by jealousy 
of a prettier or more loved older or younger sister. By joining 
her brothers, this type of woman achieves superiority over her 
sister and dismisses her mother, her sisters, and her own femi- 
ninity from her emotional life. 

Other active-masculine types show the surplus of active- 
aggressive forces in a more direct manner. The sadistic witch 
riding on a broom, the herb gatherer and healer, with a big 
stick in her hand and a bagful of mysterious things on her back, 
and many other figures out of mythology and folklore, clearly 
reveal the connection between aggression and masculinity in 
woman. This connection seems to us of decisive importance; 
for our repeatedly advanced conception of woman's develop- 
ment implies that woman's masculinity originates in a surplus 
of aggressive forces that were not subjected to inhibition and 
that lack the possibility of an outlet such as is open to man. 
For this reason, the masculine woman is also the aggressive 

Classic examples of active-aggressive personalities that con- 


stantly strive to give their excessive activity a rational purpose, 
and can never achieve peace, are provided by women whose 
behavior has a decided hypomanic character. On closer exami- 
nation these very women reveal the intimate connection of 
activity with aggression and masculinity. Their perpetual 
actions and accomplishments serve a twofold purpose: they are 
a direct expression of the excess of aggressive forces for which 
they always seek outlets, and a manifestation of denial of the 
passive-feminine element and of the absence of a masculine 

I had an opportunity to observe over a long period a woman 
whose personality must have seemed odd indeed until she was 
unmasked by analysis. 2 The many mishaps that had marked 
her life had left no trace upon her; she reacted to every misfor- 
tune with philosophic superiority, each time stressing all the 
good things that still remained to her. There was no question 
of apathy in her case, because she had an exuberant tempera- 
ment, constantly engaged in new friendships and love aftairs, 
in successful studies of new subjects, etc. Her unconcern with 
her outward fate could be observed in the course of her treat- 
ment. During that period she was deserted by her husband 
and lover, lost a large part of her fortune, and personally experi- 
enced the tragic fate of the mother who is given up by her 
grown-up son (this woman was strongly attached to her son) in 
favor of another woman. Nothing of all that could disturb her 
euphoria; she always and immediately found a way out by 
depreciating what she had just lost or by immediately creating 
substitute values that nipped in the bud the reaction to the loss 
and negated it. The result was always: "Actually, I have not 
lost anything." 

In this patient I saw quite clearly how the entire mechanism 
of denial had begun in connection with the birth of her brother. 
When this event took place, her behavior was so striking that 
all her family remembered it as a kind of family saga. For a 

* DEUTSCH, H.: Zur Psychologic der manisch-depressiven Zustande, insbesondcre der 
chronischen Hypomanie. Internat. Ztschr. f. Pychoanal., vol. 19, 1933. 


short period the patient was then a little girl she developed 
furious aggressions against the newborn child; this was followed 
by a phase in which she declared that she possessed all the 
things that she knew would be denied her. For some time her 
behavior was pseudologic; she told all sorts of fantastic stories 
intended to show that she actually possessed all the things she 
claimed to possess. For instance, she once said during her 
religion lesson that her father had given her Mount Ararat and 
that she had built a house for her doll on it. 

In later years she accepted a certain compromise with reality: 
while trying to transform it in line with her wishes, she did this 
in such way as to be able constantly to negate her privations as 
well as her own aggressions; but she stopped telling fantastic 
lies. She became conscious of the morbid character of her 
efforts to negate frustrations only during treatment. 

We have cited this neurotic woman as an example because 
her behavior differs only in degree from that of many sound and 
worth while women. Many such women, pioneers in important 
fields, prominent because of their initiative and indefatigable 
efforts, who have made valuable contributions to the welfare of 
mankind because of their will and energy, resemble my hypo- 
manic patient to a great degree. I do not cite their names, out 
of respect for their achievements. 

In their love life these women usually suffer great disappoint- 
ments. The overactivity and frequent change of aims charac- 
teristic of them are manifested usually in their masculine fields. 
Erotically they are very often more stable, that is, they do not 
change their love objects, and love does not play an important 
part in their lives. Their choice of men is made difficult as a 
result of their preference for passive men, whom they later furi- 
ously urge to become active and whom they persecute with the 
eternal reproach of not being sufficiently energetic. Like Brun- 
hilde, these women vainly seek a Siegfried who could make them 
feminine, for they avoid active men, and the passive ones can 
hardly develop into Siegfrieds, especially in the atmosphere 
created by these women. Their relationships with active men 


always end in conflicts, in which both partners are filled with 
hate and aggression. 

Another type of overactive woman operates in the sexual 
field also. Just as the former changes her nonerotic interests, 
the latter changes her love objects. We also meet with this 
type in prostitution, the nature of which is partly explained by 
the masculinity complex. The type of prostitute described in 
the previous chapter is, in contrast to this latter type, deter- 
mined by masochism. 

In all the groups described so far, the women are just as un- 
conscious of their turn toward masculinity as of their turn away 
from femininity. In some cases they are feminine in appear- 
ance, and even try to emphasize the fact that they belong to the 
feminine sex. Their efforts to be feminine are incessant and 
futile, just as are their efforts to be masculine. 

Psychologic observation shows that such a turning away 
from femininity or turning toward masculinity involves a com- 
plicated process that often has many determinants. 8 The basis 
of the mental conflicts and difficulties that arise here is a dis- 
positional readiness for them, created by the developmental 
processes we have described. 

The psychologic motives of these conflicts are extraordinarily 
numerous. We shall take up only a few of them here with re- 
gard to the masculinity complex. A disturbance in the identifi- 
cation with the mother certainly plays a great part in the de- 
velopment toward femininity. What is most ominous is not 
pure and simple rejection of the mother, but a conflict between 
rejecting and clinging to her. For instance, a girl in puberty 
forming her ego ideal can completely reject identification with 
her mother through her consciously or unconsciously deter- 
mined depreciation, and follow a different model. If the 
mother is excluded from the ego formation in this period of the 
girl's life, the model is only the father. The girl's emotional 

8 HORNEY, K.: The flight from womanhood. Internat. J. Psycho-Analysis, 1926. 
The author points especially to the Oedipus complex as motive for such a flight. 


personality may still be formed after her mother, partly as a 
result of a continuation of her early infantile identification with 
her, partly as a result of rivalry for the father's love. This 
leads to a conflict between two identifications that is solved 
favorably, or creates an inner tension the resolution of which is 
possible only through repression of one component and excessive 
growth of the other. If the motherly part of the personality 
is the one that is repressed, the fatherly part will, by reaction, 
manifest great intensity, in order to negate the other; then 
we shall be confronted with a reactive form of masculinity. 
Women with this kind of masculinity repress every feminine 
gesture or emotional expression and do everything they can 
to appear masculine. Such repression may completely im- 
poverish and devastate the woman's emotional life, for she 
depreciates and rejects everything emotional. Some women 
boast of this coldness as a proof of strength, others complain 
of it without realizing that their emotional poverty is a pre- 
requisite for the masculine component of the psyche, which 
they have accepted. 

A phenomenon frequently found, especially among talented 
young persons successful intellectually or professionally, is the 
sudden overwhelming fear that the feminine role must be given 
up and the gratification of feminine desires completely re- 
nounced in favor of activity. This fear is sometimes neuroti- 
cally related to the body and may be expressed as: "Something 
is wrong with my body, I have hair like a man, my genitals are 
not normal." The feeling that the genitals have a masculine 
appearance expresses the unsatisfied wish to be loved and to 
love as a woman; through her inner perception of her masculine 
tendencies, the girl feels disturbed in her femininity and dis- 
places the psychologic difficulty to the body. One might object 
that in this case, as in many others, dissatisfaction with one's 
own body indirectly expresses the absence of a masculine organ. 
But this is not the case; it must not be overlooked that we are 
confronted here with a conflict situation that is fed from two 
sides, and that no choice has been made between two wishes: 


the girl would gladly be a man but refuses to renounce the 
fulfillment of her feminine wishes, and vice versa. 

In other cases this lack of harmony between two identifica- 
tions leads to a rift, and one part of the personality, for instance 
the emotional part, remains feminine; the intellect, turned to- 
ward real life and work, acts in a masculine manner. The 
emotional, feminine part can be exclusively related to sexuality 
and eroticism or it may include part of the sublimations. Such 
a solution might lead to great harmony and excellent achieve- 
ments; but usually the harmony is lost when stronger demands 
are made either upon the affective-feminine life or on the mas- 
culine efficiency. 

An extraordinarily clear example of a conflict between femi- 
ninity and masculinity is represented by George Sand, the 
French novelist. Her conflicts are so typical and so clear that 
she is a perfect illustration of our theoretic views. 4 

George Sand has always fascinated biographers of various 
nationalities, and there is a large body of literature concerning 
her. I select from her life only a few facts so typical that they 
can well serve to illustrate our problem. 

There are two photographs of George Sand that present a 
striking contrast. 

In one we see a rather stout, motherly type of woman, holding 
her children in her lap; in the other, a masculine person, in 
man's clothes, with short hair and a cigar in her mouth and it 
should be borne in mind that George Sand lived in a period in 
which the general masculinization of women we see today had 
not yet taken place, so that her appearance in the photograph 
is more extreme and individualistic than would be the same 
degree of masculinity in a woman's appearance today. These 
two pictures indicate at once a kind of double personality, a 
split, a conflict between masculine and feminine tendencies. 
This double personality expresses itself even in the artist's 
name. As a female her name was Aurore Dupin, and when she 

4 The discussion that follows is an excerpt from an earlier published extensive essay 
by the writer: Ein Frauenachicksal: George Sand. Imago, vol. 14, 1928. 


married she became Madame Dudevant. But the name that 
as a writer she made famous was her masculine name, George 

She is the classic type of man- woman, the strange being who 
seems to carry a masculine soul in a feminine body. Close 
examination of her life shows that the masculinity complex, 
even in its pure form, results from an unsuccessful striving for 
a feminine realization of happiness; it is a stake in the happiness 
lying outside the boundary of the feminine. We shall see that 
this frustration of the feminine lay deeply hidden in her child- 
hood experiences. It was because of these that her femininity 
could never attain happy fulfillment. 

It is known that George Sand, as a woman, led a very promis- 
cuous life and ruined many men. As lovers she chose so-called 
feminine men. People spoke jestingly of "Monsieur Sand" and 
"Madame de Musset." It was also a matter of common 
knowledge that Chopin, one of her love victims, was of a femi- 
nine nature. It was thought natural for her to choose this type 
of lover, for thus the masculine and feminine could balance each 
other. Hence it was said that the masculine George Sand loved 
feminine men. 

Each of George Sand's numerous love affairs terminated in 
literally the selfsame catastrophe: the man was destroyed 
George Sand's masculinity prospered. But there was also 
something within her that was broken and destroyed. We 
shall devote particular attention to this part of her personality, 
because in it lies the secret of her masculinity that we are 
trying to penetrate. 

To open the closed doors that lead to the hidden secret of her 
fate, we have two keys: her voluminous autobiographic writ- 
ings 5 and her novels. We shall not concern ourselves, for the 
present, with her scientific, philosophic, and social ideas, which 
incidentally were on a high plane of masculine intellectuality. 
Sainte-Beuve, Delatouche, Pierre Leroux, Lamennais, Flaubert, 

6 Journal intime (posthumous). Paris: Calmann-Lvy, 1926, 
Histoire de ma vie (3 vols.). Paris: Calmann-LeVy, 1926. 


the brothers Goncourt, Balzac, Delacroix, and many others 
treated her as an equal. 

Now, despite her tremendous intuitiveness, which ap- 
proached the level of genius, despite her effort to understand 
herself, George Sand's creative personality was split. One 
part supplied her autobiographic works with material from her 
conscious life, the other appears in her novels under various 
names and in numerous characters, betraying what was deeply 
rooted in her unconscious. 

In her hours of artistic creation George Sand would fall into 
a kind of twilight state during which she made a decisive break 
with reality and set down in novels what she inwardly expe- 
rienced. Her contemporaries said that she used to sit brooding 
for hours and days with a dazed expression, lost in the experi- 
ences of the heroines of her novels. She dreamed and rambled 
on in her dreams exactly as she had done as a child: even as a 
little girl she was a terror and an enigma to all who beheld her. 
George Sand herself said that she never experienced what she 
described in her novels so far was her writing removed from 
her conscious existence. The heroines of her novels could at 
once, and in every case, by anyone who knew her life, be recog- 
nized as George Sand; but she was by no means willing to 
acknowledge this identity. When I studied her writings I was 
always able to find the parallelism between the experience 
behind her autobiographic works and that behind her novels 
between conscious experience in the former, and unconscious 
experience in the latter. 

With the aid of the analytic method we shall try to find out 
how the unresolved psychic experiences of George Sand's child- 
hood, repressed into her unconscious, were compulsively repeated 
in her adult experience, and how the later enigmatic events in 
her life were faithful reproductions of a pattern previously 
stamped upon her emotions. 

Even before her birth, a definite family constellation had 
already to some degree determined her fate. Her father was 
Maurice Dupin, son of Aurore de Saxe, and grandson of Prince 


Maurice de Saxe, after whom he had been named. Prince 
Maurice was the son of the Polish king Frederick Augustus II 
and of the princess Aurore Konigsmark, after whom George 
Sand was named Aurore. I mention this genealogy in order to 
explain the family pride evidenced by George Sand's grand- 
mother, the elder Madame Dupin. George Sand's mother, on 
the other hand, was of humble origin, the daughter of a bird 
seller from the banks of the Seine. Now Grandmother Dupin 
completely transferred the intense attachment she felt for her 
famous father to her son. Maurice junior was to become the 
reincarnation of Maurice senior. The love demands that the 
father had not satisfied were to be satisfied by the son. It is 
not infrequent for mothers to make such dangerous demands on 
their sons. The mother's expectations are to be gratified in 
two ways: her pride in her son is to be satisfied, as well as her 
claim to being the sole recipient of his love. Grandmother 
Dupin, possessing unusual intellectual gifts, drove her only son 
Maurice to laborious study, just as she herself had already 
trained and formed her own intellect on the paternal model. 

The ardent, intense bonds of love between Madame Dupin 
and Maurice were of an intellectual nature, based on a com- 
munity of interests that had been created by study. This 
relation was terminated characteristically by the son: he made 
an attempt to free himself and chose a wife who was his mother's 
precise opposite. This woman, Sophie, George Sand's mother 
in contrast to the highly aristocratic grandmother was a 
plebeian. She could scarcely write grammatically. A prosti- 
tute type, she was clearly the antithesis of Madame Dupin, 
who was the essence of sexual chastity. While the grandmother 
was reserved and self-controlled, Sophie was undisciplined and 
unmannerly. Whereas for Madame Dupin motherhood was 
inconceivable without the sacrament of marriage, Sophie had 
illegitimate children. 

Between these two women there developed a life and death 
struggle, such as could arise only between two rivals for the 
love of one man. Maurice stood between the two women, 


bound to each. He could renounce neither, for they corre- 
sponded to two separate strivings of his psyche: his need for 
tenderness tied him to his mother, and his sensuality to Sophie. 
His whole life was a sacrifice to this typical split, and the com- 
petitive struggle of the two women to possess the man was later 
transferred to the child. Both women, who became veritable 
furies, fought to win the child's heart, as once they had fought 
for Maurice. Little Aurore herself was a very feminine crea- 
ture; she was quite like any normal girl. Like her grandmother 
and mother, she wanted to be the sole love object of her father, 
and engaged in the competitive struggle along with the two 
older women. In her diaries these things are not mentioned, 
for of course George Sand was not conscious of them; but her 
artistic inspiration, her novels, the fantasies produced in states 
of reverie by her unconscious double, relate indirectly to these 

It is quite common for girls to hate their mothers for being 
the love objects of their fathers, but at the same time they try 
to identify themselves with their mothers and to resemble them, 
precisely in order to win the affection of their fathers. This is 
the normal way of attaining womanhood. Gradually hatred 
is abandoned, and the mothers are retained as models of 

The stability of a girl's character formation depends on 
whether her ego ideal has developed in harmony with the father- 
mother model. At this point poor Aurore failed completely. 
Her personality did not develop harmoniously, and her ego 
ideal collapsed. Her childhood contained two mothers: both 
loved the father and were loved by the father in turn. Upon 
which of the two models was she to create her mother-woman 
ideal ? Which would she take as a model to guide her in her 
relations with men? The grandmother loved little Aurore 
like a son, called her "my son," and insisted that she be equipped 
with the virtues of a boy. She put little Aurore into a position 
disastrous to her femininity by declaring: "I amlikeyour father/' 

But to be loved by the father so the grandmother reasoned 


meant that Aurore should become like her, the older woman 
whom he treasured, honored, and idolized. That other woman, 
thought the grandmother, that stranger and enemy, could 
appeal only to his sensuality. 

As a result Aurore's approach to men was modeled on her 
grandmother's love for Maurice; she acted toward men as a 
mother to a boy who needs her guidance. 

Unfortunately the psychic machinery is such that it keeps on 
working even beyond the desired end; Aurore, enacting the 
mother-son relationship in her subsequent love affairs again and 
again, must like her grandmother be betrayed in favor of a 
prostitute. This is the one constant feature of her love affairs. 
The pattern was foreshadowed in the events of her early child- 
hood; and, unmodified in any respect, it cropped up again and 
again in her subsequent experiences. 

Aurore's mother hated the grandmother and contrived by 
constant criticism to fill her daughter with the same hatred. 
The mother displayed the utmost contempt for the aristocratic 
feudal values of the grandmother, her self-control, distinction, 
and pride of ancestry; she ascribed the grandmother's reserve 
to emotional coldness. And here the temperamental, tender 
Sophie was the victor. All the hatred that Aurore felt for her 
mother was channeled toward bonne-maman y as she called her 
grandmother. And the problem of her ambivalent feeling was 
resolved in this way: hatred was the grandmother's portion and 
love the mother's. Later a reversal took place: the grand- 
mother was loved and the mother was hated, because she 
disappointed her daughter. This disappointment was the 
really disastrous factor in George Sand's life. 

The struggle between the two women ended with Sophie's 
leaving the family to live her own life in Paris. She left Aurore 
behind with the promise that she would take her to Paris soon, 
Aurore impatiently waited for the promise to be fulfilled, and 
her bonne-maman discovered that the girl's heart was more 
alienated from her than ever. In a fit of jealousy the grand- 
mother revealed to the 12-year-old girl the past of the mother 
whom the child still loved, making it clear that the mother had 


resumed her previous shameful course. The revelation that 
her mother was a prostitute was a fatal blow to the girl's 

From then on Aurore was without a mother ideal, and her 
masculinity, already foreshadowed by her education, was 
further encouraged. In her later life, she made passionate 
spasmodic but unsuccessful efforts to restore her mother ideal, 
and thus to save her own femininity. The question has been 
asked again and again: How is it that George Sand's heroines 
are so womanly, maternal, and sweet, while she herself was 
their antithesis? The fact is that Aurore tried to achieve in 
fiction the feminine ideal and the model mother she had been 
deprived of in real life. 

Another device she employed to save her femininity was to 
assert, in the name of social justice, the right of all women to 
behave as her mother had. After all, men were not despised 
for promiscuity. She was the first feminist. Equal rights for 
women in every field became her program. This program 
sprang of course not only from logical conviction; it also 
answered the need of her injured daughter heart. Her insist- 
ence on legal rights for natural children is certainly connected 
with the fact that she had heard her jealous grandmother tell of 
her brother Hippolyte's uncertain parentage. 

Bonne-maman could not have done better if her deliberate 
aim had been to destroy the girl's mother ideal. But she failed 
to take Sophie's place in Aurore's heart; on the contrary, the 
girl's unconscious hatred for her mother was now entirely di- 
rected against her grandmother. All that her grandmother 
had offered her in the way of intellectual values was now cast 
away. From then on Aurore refused to study and became like 
a mischievous, wild, and undisciplined boy. She set herself 
against all things feminine, dressed in mannish garb, and in 
every way tried to ruin her good reputation as a woman. She 
did indeed bring down on herself the condemnation of society. 
People spoke of her as a wicked witch and accused her of blas- 
phemy and sorcery. 

This escape to the masculine recurred whenever Aurore expe- 


rienced a disappointment in love. This was the second source 
of her masculinity. The first was identification with her father, 
the aim of her grandmother's educational policy. This identi- 
fication was placed at the service of her unusual intellectual 
gifts, to which she owes the part she played in cultural history, 
and perhaps even a bit of immortality. The second form of her 
masculinity contained an evil sadistic element that reacted to 
disappointment with hatred and revenge. While her intellec- 
tuality in later life served her as a kind of refuge from disap- 
pointments in love, her sadistic tendencies led her to disaster. 
Both forms of masculinity here so largely determined by the 
personal experiences of childhood are quite common. In 
other cases similarly the augmentation of masculine tendencies 
in a woman is a reaction to disappointed femininity. 

Generally speaking, wherever woman's masculinity is not 
raised to the plane of creative activity, it is associated with 
intensified sadistic reactions. George Sand herself, in a letter 
to Flaubert, said that the importance of the anatomic difference 
between the sexes was overestimated and had no psychologic 
significance. Poor George Sand! Had she been able to under- 
stand the causes of her own sufferings, she would have spoken 
differently. She would have recognized that the evil she did to 
men was merely one of the results of the anatomic difference. 
Woman's masculinity often resorts to aggressiveness because it 
lacks the anatomic means to express the active masculine act. 
So it came about that George Sand's motherly love ended in the 
sadistic destruction of her lovers (Chopin, De Musset). But 
her cruel acts were followed by catastrophic fits of remorse, ^n 
annihilating sense of guilt that created terrible depressions and 
led her to contemplate suicide. 

My thesis is that George Sand's sadistic-masculine reactions 
to disappointment followed the pattern of her first reactions to 
her grandmother's destruction of her mother ideal. We shall 
try to find evidence for this in her own writings. 

In her novel, La petite Fadette ("The Cricket"), she describes 
a girl who is exactly like the little Aurore of her diaries after the 


disclosures made by her grandmother. Little Fadette acts 
like a naughty, sadistic boy: "Mother Fadette's granddaughter 
was known in the surrounding country as 'little Fadette' partly 
because she was familiar with the black arts. Everyone knows 
that Fadette Farfadette is a malicious witch/' 

At the age of 10 Fadette is abandoned by her mother, who 
leaves her to become a prostitute following the camps. At the 
age of 10 Aurore's mother abandoned her to go to Paris and 
lead a loose life. Later her grandmother told her that Sophie 
had met her father during the war, when she followed the army 
as a prostitute. Fadette's grandmother knows medicinal herbs 
and is skilled in other arts, which she teaches Fadette. Fa- 
dette's grandmother, instead of taking the place of parents, 
treats her in a harsh and loveless manner. The hostility of 
Fadette's environment is due to the fact that the neighbors 
transfer the mother's guilt to the child. This, declares Fa- 
dette-Aurore, is the cause of her own mischievous hooliganism. 

But Fadette grows up to be a sweet and kindly woman; 
sadistic aggression in her is transformed into a woman's loving, 
passive attitude. The transformation takes place when a man's 
love awakens her to femininity. Thus George Sand in her ar- 
tistic fancies gratified the wishes that life had not granted her. 
Her deepest wish was to be a woman; when put to the test by a 
man's love, this wish was never realized, since in each of her 
numerous love affairs the psychologic compulsion to repeat her 
disappointing experience proved more powerful. Only in 
artistic dreaming did George Sand realize her aborted fem- 

The question arises: Were George Sand's relations with men 
determined exclusively by her relations with her "two moth- 
ers" ? Must we not, according to psychoanalytic method, take 
her relation to her father into account? 

When Aurore was a child, the contemporary scene was domi- 
nated by a heroic figure that had captured everyone's imagina- 
tion Napoleon. Aurore's admiration for Napoleon was mixed 
with her longing for her absent father, who, at Murat's side, 


headed the southward march of the French armies. We can 
see today that any child whose father is in the armed forces, 
even in the most insignificant capacity, imagines that the whole 
fate of the war depends on him. And Maurice de Saxe was no 
mean figure in the army of Napoleon. 

When red flashes appeared in the sky, little Aurore's mother 
would say: "Look, there's a battle going on, and no doubt your 
father is in it." 

Little Aurore built a fortress with four chairs and an old stove. 
She made violent gestures, struck out at the invisible foe, hid in 
imaginary forests, gathered cruelly mutilated corpses on im- 
aginary battlefields, fought victoriously herself in the role of 
the hero, another Maurice de Saxe. George Sand, in her 
memoirs, is quite aware of this identification with her always 
absent father. When the object of our love is withdrawn, we 
imitate the traits of the absent one in order to find consolation 
for our loss. So little Aurore became warlike and satisfied her 
sadistic impulses in imaginary battles. 

These battles in which Aurore played the part of Maurice de 
Saxe laid the final base of her subsequent masculinity. Her 
later tragic experience with her two mothers did the rest. 

Absorption in an imaginary life and an inclination to cruelty 
characterized George Sand's childhood. She would spend the 
day in her fortress, plucking at the straw of the chairs. At 
night she would lie awake in bed for hours, plucking the fringes 
of the curtains. The noise thus produced was a sort of musical 
accompaniment to her fantasies. In the adjoining room her 
mother would say: "Aurore is playing with the fringe now/' 

Yet in the very midst of her gratifying fancies, fears and 
oppressions would trouble her, and one incident became the 
focus of these childish anxieties. 

A punchinello a clown dressed in red and gold found his 
way into her solitude. Aurore received the gift with mixed 
feelings. The clown could not be kept in the same box with 
her much loved doll, her little daughter. She had a foreboding 
that something terrible, something sinister would befall the little 


feminine creature from such intimate relation with the clown 
She hung him from the stove, opposite her bed. His masculine 
glance pursued her till she fell asleep, and she awoke screaming 
with fright and drenched with sweat. She had dreamt that the 
clown had caught fire, and, all aflame, had pursued her and her 
doll. After this dream the child suffered from pyrophobia, i.e., 
a dread of everything associated with fire. George Sand later 
came to see in this dread an experience that afflicts all children 
in one way or another. She termed it the great souff ranee 
morale^ the "psychic anguish" of childhood. She also asserted 
anticipating the experiences of psychoanalysis that these 
anxieties were in some way connected with typically female 
nervous disorders and that what was needed was to "find a 
psychic means to counteract a psychic cause/' When she 
rested her head against the breast of the servant Pierre, her 
fear vanished. This Pierre, whom she loved tenderly and 
whose figure frequently appears in her novels, served her as a 
kind of father substitute. 

Little Aurore slew her military enemies from her fortress of 
four chairs, and she mutilated her dolls, respecting only those 
that were so well constructed that they were unbreakable. This 
attitude continued throughout her life. While her novels were 
taking shape, even at 60, she still kept reaching for some ade- 
quate object. The men whom she loved were dolls that could 
be smashed. She mutilated them and yearned for some 
sturdier comrade with whom to play life's game. The gold and 
crimson punchinello, terror-inspiring and brilliant with flame, 
seems to have been the only male before whom George Sand 
felt wholly feminine. 

Her father returned from the wars from time to time and was 
jealously monopolized by the sensual Sophie. He was an 
affectionate father and seems to have been inclined to spoil the 
little girl. The mother would intervene and insist on greater 
severity. The passionate child in her great need for love seems 
to have felt bitterly every form of love refusal. 

Self-contradiction was constant in George Sand; the very 


things that she understood and elaborated artistically with in- 
credible intuition were the ones she overlooked and denied 
entirely with her conscious mind. 

Thus, for example, she described her childhood as sunny, 
radiant, and happy. Her actual reminiscences, however, 
always contain a note of disappointment. A fall from her 
nurse's arms, which drew blood, a song of cut laurel branches 
these are her earliest childhood recollections. This little song 
filled her heart with boundless sadness and years later tears 
would come to her eyes when she remembered: 

Nous n'irons plus au bois, 
Les lauriers sont coupes. 

(No more to the woods we'll go, 
The laurels have been cut.) 

"Explain childhood's eccentricities to me/' says George Sand. 
"I could never wipe out the mysterious impression made upon 
me when I recalled this song." 

Such childhood memories as bloody injuries or a cut branch 
are lasting and create depressive reactions throughout a 
woman's life because they symbolically express the unmastered 
genital trauma. Little Aurore admired a certain white dress 
and thought it the loveliest thing in the world. Her mother 
made a harmless remark: "The dress seems yellowish" and 
at once the little girl became terribly sad, as though at some 
serious disappointment. 

Such a reaction is common to both adults and children who 
have experienced so many disappointments that they confront 
every situation with a complete readiness for new disappoint- 
ment. In such a case it is pleasanter to stick to fantasy, for 
fantasies gratify all one's wishes. Thus from earliest childhood 
George Sand unwittingly widened the gap between her dream 
life and reality. 

When she was not quite 4 years old, she looked forward to a 
journey to Spain that had been planned. There she would see 
her heroic father again, and receive his love. What a disap- 


pointment was in store for her! The adventure did not come 
up to her expectation. The little girl felt more lonely and 
abandoned than ever. As a boy, uniformed like her father, she 
was introduced by her mother to Murat as "my son/ 1 As once 
the figures of Napoleon and her father had merged in her imagi- 
nation, so now Napoleon's representative Murat merged with 
her father to form one heroic figure. In later life once her 
longing for love led her into the arms of a masculine, paternal 
man. Yet here too the disastrous power of the unconscious 
repetition compulsion intruded; Michel, philosopher and art 
historian, called her "my son." Michel was a masculine man 
and wanted a woman for a sexual partner. The love episode 
could only end in disappointment. 

In Spain, filled with unsatisfied longings for affection and left 
to her own resources, the little girl stood in front of a large mir- 
ror and played: now she was her father, now her mother; now 
she was dressed as a boy, now like the elegant Sophie. Later 
George Sand saw herself in these two forms when she learned to 
look into the mirror of her own divided soul. She called out as 
though trying to reach someone who might understand her. 
The only reply was a hollow sound that rang through the great 
halls of Murat's palace. Her mother explained to her that this 
was Echo. And full of joy, little Aurore called to her new 
friend, "Bonjour y Echo!" Such was her loneliness even then 
and all her life she remained lonely. 

The Spanish journey that was to be a triumph for her girlish 
heart had a tragic epilogue. Her father fell from his horse 
and was brought home dead. Four-year-old Aurore remained 
in her seemingly unemotional abstracted state. She did not 
accept her father's death as real and impatiently asked from 
time to time: "When will father come back from death?" 

Her longing for her father expressed itself in a very striking 
way. A curious imaginary figure accompanied George Sand 
throughout life. This figure was named Corambe in her 
fantasy and was in reality a self-created godhead, occupying 
the center of her great religious feeling. George Sand was 


extraordinarily religious, yet she rejected any existing religious 
institution. She believed in the divine power of love, of erotic 
passion. She was full of longing for a superhuman being and 
in addition erected altars to Eros, the god of sexual love. She 
considered love the profoundest act of piety. She held to these 
two beliefs, which met only on the common ground of never 
fulfilled longing. 

Corambe, George Sand's god, emerged when the 12-year-old 
Aurore, lonely, abandoned by her mother, was seeking an 
object for her love. In this period of potential and unsatis- 
fied longing for love, every girl is reawakened to her original 
desire for her father. The unconscious longing is then diverted 
to enthusiastic adoration of some heroic figure of romance or 
reality. But George Sand was seeking an ideal with which 
life could not supply her. Her father as she saw him in her 
first childish imaginings could only be represented by a god. 
One night the ideal assumed the name of Corambe in her 
dreams. She declared that the letters shaped themselves into 
this word before the eyes of her mind. The name became "the 
title of her romance and the god of her worship. " Corambe 
was the secret of her dreams and for a long time her religious 
ideal. She built him an altar and offered sacrifices to him; 
her life was filled by his constant presence. He was ever 
beside her, observing her behavior, rejoicing and sufferingwith 
her. She laid her love gifts on his altar, but Corambe never 
wanted bloody sacrifices. Evidently he had forbidden her to 
indulge her sadistic impulses. She told him endless stories 
her dreams and fantasies but he did not wish to hear tales 
of erotic love. In the stories she told, man and woman 
always appeared united only by friendship, thus symbolizing 
her repressed sexuality. 

Throughout her whole life the god Corambe played the same 
role. In her artistic creation he was in her pen, in her ink; 
he was the object of her inspiration. This platonic relation- 
ship to her god became warmer and more passionate during 
one ecstasy she experienced. Aurore's rebellion against her 


grandmother, after the disastrous depreciation of her mother, 
had ended up with her being sent to a convent. Here she 
continued to be a "bad boy," and was known as a diable 
("devil"). One day while playing near Titian's painting of the 
dying Christ, she was seized with compassion for the sufferer 
and overcome by deep sorrow. She had a dizzy spell and heard 
a voice crying: "7W/, lege" a hallucination, recognized by her 
as such. She experienced the perfect rapture of ectasy. She 
felt God within her, beating in her heart, flowing in her veins. 
She was overcome by a shattering joy, she became one with 
God he was in her, she was in him. She herself compared 
this miracle to the experience of St. Theresa except that, as 
with Corambe, God, while father, brother, eternity, was never 
a spouse. She is most emphatic about this. 

The story of Corambe's origin is clear: the longed-for father, 
exalted to an ideal figure, is once more personified and endowed 
with all the virtues for which the imagination yearns. He is 
disavowed as a sexual object and the relation to him is raised 
to the plane of religious belief. The ecstasy, as experienced 
and described by George Sand, is one with which psychoanalysis 
is well acquainted. It is a most intimate, intense union with 
God the Father, a sublimated form of and one might almost 
say the opposite pole to sexual union. George Sand's 
religious adoration of Corambe is a continuation of her relation 
to her father. Instead of giving her love to some man of flesh 
and blood, her love remains chained to her childish dreams. 
The great, wish-fulfilling virtue of the divine Corambe seems 
to be that he never leaves her and is always at hand. The 
Latin word coram stands for "in presence of." Was not 
George Sand at the time assiduously studying Latin? But the 
-be is not clear. I should like to try to construe this suffix 

When Aurore was small and her father was away, her 
mother tried to teach her the alphabet. 'The little one showed 
application and talent. But she had one curious difficulty: 
the letter b did not exist for her. For a long time she obsti- 


nately omitted it from her list and neither punishment nor 
prayers could correct this error. "Whoso says a must say b" 
says the proverb. Yet when asked why she refused to write 
and read the letter b she answered with a curious obstinacy: 
"Because I do not know b" 

It seems to me that the b repressed in her childhood is 
identical with the -be that later turned up as the suffix to 
coram. The whole word could then mean, "in the presence 
of b" If the b repressed in childhood referred to the absent 
father, whom she hardly knew at the time, then its turning up 
in Corambe would be quite understandable. 

This attachment to Corambe seems to have been a great 
obstacle to her feminine love life. All her love affairs, ex- 
cept the unsuccessful one with Michel, have clearly the char- 
acter of a mother-child relation. Her disastrous affair with 
De Musset is typical. It began as a friendship, the tender union 
of a boy genius and an inspired mother. She always called 
him "my good" or "my bad" child. She felt that she was 
not in sexual danger with him, until with motherly kindness 
she yielded to his tears and complied with his sexual desire. 
De Musset was always a "mother's pet" and his choice in love 
was determined by a neurotic mother attachment. 

Before the journey to Italy and its famous terrible epilogue 
in Venice, she received him in motherly fashion from his 
mother's hands with the promise to watch over him as a 
mother would. 

The first stage of their relation followed the stereotyped 
pattern. George Sand was the bonne-maman y affectionate, 
solicitous, stimulating. In her role as a mother she abandoned 
herself completely. She identified herself with the beloved 
child. But just as the grandmother was separated from 
Maurice by a prostitute, so in Venice De Musset began to 
betray mother-George with prostitutes. He claimed that it 
was she, with her coldness and interest in things outside him, 
that drove him to do so. She denied this. Both were right. 
She did what he accused her of doing, automatically, as a 


result of a repetition compulsion. He behaved like an irritated, 
capricious child trying to torment his mother. When George 
fell sick, DeMusset reacted as children sometimes do: he 
felt insulted and revenged himself. Then came the famous 
night in Venice, when at the delirious Alfred's sickbed George 
kissed and embraced the physician Pagello. She denied this, 
but her denial is as unacceptable as Alfred's delirious accusa- 
tions for George Sand sometimes followed her unconscious 
impulses so blindly that falsifications of memory would not 
be surprising. 

Whatever the true facts of this episode, she could not be 
simply a kindly mother in the mother-child relation. Her 
own mother had cruelly deserted her, and she was compelled 
to desert and disappoint in turn. The mother-child relation 
is clearly revealed in a letter by De Musset that admits of 
but one interpretation: "You thought that you were my 
sweetheart? But you were only a mother. Heaven made us 
for each other, yet our embrace was incest." 

In her eternally unsatisfied longing for love, George Sand 
went from one man to another. No relation could be suc- 
cessful, for she always found a weak, infantile boy in need 
of assistance. What she sought was the love of a great, 
strong, powerful divine father. This desire had to be repressed 
and sublimated into religion. 

Her relation with Chopin was a replica of her relation with 
DeMusset. She saved the tubercular boy only to be tor- 
mented in her mother role by his passionate jealousy. George 
Sand in this case too devoted herself to her lover heart and soul, 
but, obedient to the sinister demands of her unconscious, 
broke her fragile toy. Ardently seeking the strong father, 
she found only the weakling son; herself disappointed, she 
disappointed in turn; causing sorrow, she herself suffered most 

Every woman's love for a man is nourished by two springs: 
her love for her father and her love for her son, even before the 
latter is born. These two forms of love must unite and flow 


toward the same object. In George Sand's case both tenden- 
cies suffered severe disturbances in their development. 
Plunged from earliest youth into a life of fantasy, she mingled 
the realities of the external world with the content of her 
fantasies. Her experiences in love could never be completely 
freed from this bondage. Each tendency was determined by 
childhood memories and could only lead to tragedy. Even 
her attempt to save her femininity by marriage was unsuccess- 
ful. She loved her son Maurice as a mother, yet she troubled 
and complicated even this relation by her relations with sons 
not of her flesh. 

Ardently longing for femininity, each new disappointment 
as a woman pushed her into masculinity again and again. She 
was George Sand intellectually, and "Piffoel" in her emotions. 
Piftoel was the name she always gave herself in her inconsolable 
sorrow, after each new loss of femininity. Bete melancolique 
et abominable ("melancholy and abominable beast") was what 
she called her masculine double, whom she held responsible 
for her wretchedness. 

George Sand's psychic split can be seen both in her love life 
and in her sublimations. Although her intellectual personality 
was masculine, her creative work tapped sources other than 
her intellect. As a novelist she was feminine-intuitive par 
excellence; she reached the extreme of the quality that we have 
found characteristic of our feminine type. George Sand's turn 
toward herself, her activity directed inward, sometimes even 
verged on twilight states, and in her novels she projected her 
own psychic experiences in figures created after the image 
of her own unconscious self. When we uncover the instinctual 
components behind the sublimations, we find confirmation 
of our view that her intellect concealed aggressive-masculine 
components, and her poetic intuition passive-feminine ones. 

In conclusion let us look once more at the two photographs 
of Aurore-George Sand mentioned above. They certainly 
suggest the problem of the bisexual disposition, but we are 
nevertheless inclined to hold psychologic motives responsible 


for the split between the masculine and feminine components. 
Whatever may be the endocrinologic findings of the future, 
we have seen in the case of George Sand that her masculinity 
complex was only a consequence of her thwarted thrust toward 

In George Sand we have seen conflicts between different 
identifications that could not be resolved because of the gravity 
of the affective experiences. True, George Sand reacted to 
her love disappointments by escaping into masculinity, but 
the disappointments themselves were provoked by her incapac- 
ity for feminine experiences. 

Once again we are confronted with a vicious circle. One 
psychic situation provokes the other, and the sequence is 
gradually lost, so that the question whether she was masculine 
because her femininity was disturbed, or whether her feminin- 
ity was inadequate because it was disturbed by a masculine 
disposition, is practically unanswerable. Psychoanalysts tend 
to regard the masculinity complex or penis envy as the primary 
cause of feminine psychic difficulties. But examination of the 
life of George Sand and of many other, perhaps less fascinating 
and less rich but essentially similar lives, shows the inadequacy 
of this hypothesis. 

s But if we assume that human beings have organically bi- 
sexual dispositions, that woman and man originate in a common 
primeval source, we are compelled to conclude that in the 
psychic economy of the individual, the two components, 
masculine and feminine, must be united to form a harmonious 
whole. The feminine component should predominate in 
women and the masculine in men. When the harmony of the 
masculine and feminine tendencies is disturbed in an individual, 
an inner conflict arises. The sources of this disturbance, as 
I have tried to show, are psychologic.""^ 

The life of a woman under the impact of the masculinity 
complex is not always rich in love disappointments and poetic 
and intellectual achievements. In women who lack George 


Sand's gifts, the confusion of masculine and feminine assumes 
more primitive forms. Sublimation is replaced by aggression, 
and in their relations with men, such women use "love" or 
instinctual sexuality as a pretext for gratifying their aggressions 
and revenge impulses. 

In many masculine-aggressive women it is the fear of men, 
or the desire to take an anticipated revenge for the rape they 
expect, that leads them to an aggressive reversal of the normal 
situation; these women do the seducing, abusing, and deserting. 
Thus they escape anxious expectation and renounce tenderness 
and feminine gratification in favor of the aggressive masculin- 
ity they imitate. This state of mind frequently leads to 
prostitution not only in the literal sense but also in that of 
psychologic behavior just as does a really experienced and 
repressed love disappointment. Such women can seduce 
and disappoint one man after another, in order to take revenge 
for their own disappointment. Wherever we find the aggres- 
sive form of prostitution, we also find other signs of masculine 
tendencies. But we must not forget the Carmen type, who 
conceals her masochistic opposite behind her aggressions. 

In some of these prostitutional types, masculinity manifests 
itself in the negation of motherhood. To them, as women, 
sexuality has the same meaning as to men a pleasurable dis- 
charge without the consequence of motherhood. This does 
not imply that woman's sexual experience does not always 
serve immediately pleasurable ends. But the emphasis on 
the exclusiveness of sexual pleasure, the active negation 
of the other goal, is, in woman, masculine. 

This evaluation is also expressed in the attitude of men, 
to whom the prostitute signifies the opposite of the mother. 
The sexual-emotional experience of the prostitute who is 
usually frigid is changed into money values, and here again it 
would be a mistake to explain the cupidity of the aggressive 
prostitute by purely economic motives. The economic motive 
is often the primary one, but sometimes, just as in the case 
of the masochist, it is a rationalization of emotional motives 


Returning to George Sand, we shall have occasion to study 
in her still other forms of masculinity. Her preference for 
young men was wholly personal and arose from her childhood 
experiences. Many women choose this kind of object relation 
not from motherliness, as was the case with George Sand, 
but from their own longing in puberty to be boys. In such 
women the fantasy we have mentioned earlier asserts itself 
in this realization. Probably this was true of George Sand also, 
and augmented her other motivations. George Sand's vivid 
disguises before a mirror, sometimes impersonating a boy and 
sometimes a girl, provide us with an impressive illustration of 
this deep-rooted double nature, stemming from bisexuality, 
that seeks playful gratification. 

Women who later love younger men give their longing to be 
a boy a less playful character through this projection. Very 
feminine and passive women are most given to preserving 
their wish for masculinity in this form. At the same time 
they usually try through such an erotic choice to escape the 
masculine man, who is particularly dangerous for their masoch- 

Mental life is confusing because it has innumerable con- 
tents and disposes over only a limited number of expres- 
sive possibilities. For that reason, every event, action, and 
gesture can express something definite and its opposite. And 
because side by side with the most aggressive masculinity, the 
most tender feminine emotions appear in the same woman, the 
purpose of an individual action is not always clear. 

In our exposition of the masculinity complex we have thus 
far disregarded the idea of penis envy or the female castration 
complex. We shall now take this up in detail. 
\In psychoanalytic terminology "female castration complex" 
has a specific meaning. It refers to the disturbances that de- 
rive from penis envy and that prove that fundamentally 
woman does not renounce the masculine organ and that her 
attempt to repress the envy and desire for possession of it 


is abortive. The repressed elements manifest themselves in 
various psychic reactions that together constitute the female 
castration complex. The basic material for this view was 
provided by Abraham, 6 who followed Freud 7 and van Ophuij- 
sen. 8 j^ 

Abraham distinguishes two reactive types in women who 
have not mastered penis envy: the wish fulfillment and the 
revengeful type. The woman of the first type is dominated 
by the unconscious fantasy that she possesses a penis and 
tries to assume a masculine role. In the course of our descrip- 
tion of types we have called the reader's attention to such 
women. Especially the intellectual woman, with her typical 
overestimation of intellectual values, falls into this category. 
According to Abraham, such a woman tries to achieve some- 
thing great or masculine in the intellectual field in order 
to compensate for her lack of a penis. The vindictive type is 
filled with the desire to take revenge on man for his advantage. 
Numerous difficulties in erotic life, and varied neurotic symp- 
toms, are manifestations of this vindictive attitude. Abra- 
ham's description of the different types and the material by 
which he substantiates his classification are above criticism, 
and later experience has largely confirmed his findings. He 
himself corrected his somewhat rigid differentiation of wish 
fulfillment and revengeful types by emphasizing the predomi- 
nance of one or the other component in the same individual. 

Like any pioneer's, Abraham's findings are to some extent 
one-sided. In my opinion he puts too much emphasis on 
penis envy in its normal and neurotic manifestations. He 
connects woman's conscious and unconscious desire to take 
over man's role too closely with the fantasy relating to the 
possession of a masculine organ. 

1 ABRAHAM, K.: Manifestations of the female castration complex. Selected papers of 

K. Abraham. London: Hogarth. 

7 FREUD, S.: The taboo of virginity. Collected Papers, vol. 4. 
OPHUIJSEN, J. H. W. VAN: Contributions to the masculinity complex of women 

Internat. J. Psycho-Analysis, vol. 5, 1924. 


My own later experience can be summed up in the view 
that woman's masculine wishes, and her difficulty in mastering 
them, result from multiple psychologic influences, in which 
penis envy does play a part but does not constitute a primary 
cause. Even though we assume the existence of latent mas- 
culinity in every woman, we believe that the development 
toward femininity proceeds by virtue of a constitutional im- 
pulse. The difficult situations that must be solved on this path 
may produce a disposition to a traumatic effect, but this 
effect takes place and hinders the development toward feminin- 
ity only when the normal difficulties are accompanied by 
particularly aggravating elements. The girl's genital trauma, 
the portentous fact that at a certain stage of her development 
she lacks an adequate organ for the outlet of inner excitations, 
cannot be the result of an external experience. The narcis- 
sistic mortification, the envy aroused by the real experience of 
seeing the masculine organ, does leave a strong impression, 
but cannot be made responsible for all the positive and nega- 
tive consequent manifestations in feminine development. 

In our view the genital trauma has a different meaning. It is 
a biologically predetermined inhibition of development that 
paves the way to femininity and at the same time creates a 
traumatic disposition, just like any situation in which forces 
acting in opposite directions have to fight things out. We refer 
to the processes described in chapter vi, processes centered 
around the conflict between the instinctual drives and their 
inhibition. This phase of development and the "lack of an 
organ" that characterizes it create a dispositional-traumatic 
readiness for penis envy as well as for subsequent experiences 
that are also mastered in normal development. 

The sight of the male sex organ can have a traumatic effect, 
but only provided that a long chain of earlier experiences 
calculated to create this effect has preceded it, and that the 
inhibitive process has encountered difficulties. It is no ac- 
cident that penis envy is usually accompanied by intensified 
aggressions. These aggressions are, in our view, intensified 


not as a result of penis envy, but as a result of the rage and 
excitation accumulated in the preceding development. The 
motives of these emotions vary; they may, for instance, express 
feelings of envy that have been present before. A little girl 
may become very jealous of her brothers and sisters, and her 
little brother's "extra" organ may serve to touch off aggressive 
reactions. The visual experience of the anatomic difference 
may then endow these reactions with a particularly envious 

The fact that the boy has an organ that can actually be 
grasped and thus has the possibility of transferring psychologic 
processes to material, real ones, creates an obscure feeling in 
the girl that he can manage his sadistic impulses, anxieties, 
and masturbatory struggles better than she can master hers. 
The general human tendency to project inner dangers outside 
oneself in order to master them more efficiently, also seems to 
play a part in her envious evaluation of the male organ. 

The typical manifestations accompanying penis envy are 
always the same: (i) the girl accuses her mother (more rarely 
her father) of having wronged her; (2) she accuses herself ot 
having destroyed her penis by masturbation; (3) she fears that 
it is concealed inside the body and she anxiously (or hopefully) 
expects it to grow later on. 

However, because penis envy is itself an accompaniment to 
other processes, the predominance of one or another of its 
components depends on the situation as a whole. If the inten- 
sified aggressions are directed against the mother, the accusa- 
tion is directed against her; if the girl expects proofs of love 
from her father that are not given her, or if he has taken 
over the punitive function, her resentment, protests, and 
vindictive tendencies will be directed against him. 

If the girl's fantasy is preoccupied with processes taking 
place inside the body (for instance, if she is interested in her 
mother's pregnancy), her ideas with regard to the sex organ 
will be directed toward the inside of the body; in other words, 
she will develop the usually anxiety-laden fantasy that the 


penis is concealed inside. The reappearance of this idea in 
puberty often provides the motive for the obsessional wish 
to be operated upon. We can assume that Nancy's assertion 
(p- 63) that "something" remained in her body after her 
operation referred not only to a pregnancy fantasy but also 
to a still more obscure object. 

A sweet little girl whose fantasies are directed toward ful- 
fillments in the future will also expect a later fulfillment of 
her penis wish. 

It is characteristic that girls with obsessional-neurotic 
dispositions tend to display aggressive reactions of penis envy, 
while those predisposed to hysteria tend to hope for a future 
growth; the displacement of wish fantasies to the future is 
generally a symptom of hysteria. From the presence of self- 
accusations it is possible not only to recognize the influence 
of masturbatory processes, but also to infer a later tendency 
to guilt reactions. 

In one way or another, there is no woman in whom one could 
not discover some traces of the genital trauma in the form ot 
penis envy. In some women these tendencies are not active, 
in others they contribute to character formation and produce 
neurotic symptoms. 

Masculinity complex and penis envy (or wish) are not 
identical concepts, even though they naturally condition each 
other. An adult woman who out of ambition or for other 
reasons harbors a conscious rationalized wish for masculinity 
has long ago sublimated the wish for a masculine-active genital 
organ. Her accusations are then directed against the social 
order or against her own incapacity for masculine achievements. 
Not so with the unconscious wish for masculinity: in this case, 
even if it does not originate in penis envy, it is more or less 
accompanied by an unconscious desire for a male organ. 
George Sand, for instance, was always sad when she recalled 
the song about the laurel branches or her fall from her nurse's 
arms. She herself was surprised at the peculiarity of the 
human soul that makes it cling to such slight memories. Even 


in less masculine women such memories serve as centers 
around which the genital complex forms. The events to 
which they refer sometimes did not take place at all; the false 
memory arises from the need to give the genital trauma a 
realistic content. 

There are also women in whom the penis wish or wish to be 
a man assumes a direct and primitive form. They dress like 
men, act like men, fight with or against men, instead of letting 
themselves be loved; they display their active castration 
desires toward the other sex in unveiled form and in their case 
one does not need to look long for signs of penis envy. In 
earlier generations they wore their hair short as a sign of their 
"masculine protest/' bound their chests flat, and were in- 
terested only in activities that were considered unbecoming 
to the feminine sex. Such women have really turned away 
from femininity and constitute a type in which, it is possible 
to suspect, the wish for masculinity is constitutionally deter- 
mined. Their ancient prototypes are the Amazons, and it 
can be seen that the nature of these women has been preserved 
through the centuries and that they assert their existence 
independently of social regimes. In our own day this form 
of the masculinity complex is extremely rare, for our modern 
girls can act and struggle in a much more rational and socially 
acceptable manner. 

Another form of the penis wish sounds paradoxic because 
it remains within the feminine domain. For the most womanly 
thing in woman is her desire for a child. This feminine wish 
can, however, assume a masculine form if the woman wants 
to prove through her child that she can create something by 
her own activity and that the child is a product of her body, 
engendered by her alone. One fantasy, which I call "partheno- 
genetic," runs as follows: "I have a child born of me alone, 
I am its mother and father. I don't need or want a man for 
the begetting of this child/' This fantasy usually arises in 
puberty. Psychoanalysis reveals that the fantasy life of such 


women is not filled with the motherly yearning for a child, 
but that they want to compensate for their bodily disadvan- 
tage by a positive achievement of their body. In this, the 
part played by the man is reduced to an insignificant mini 
mum. This masculine wish in woman manifests itself in var- 
ious fantasies and actions. 

Characteristically, this fantasy becomes a completely con- 
scious wish in a certain feminine type that strongly strives for 
masculinity. Occasionally, although rarely, this fantasy is 
actually realized when the woman has a child by the first 
man who comes along: his part is limited to impregnating her. 
One woman of this type went overseas with the fully conscious 
intention of being impregnated by someone unknown, and 
she carried out her project. Another very intelligent woman 
had intercourse with a servant in order "to have her own, 
robust child/' Many unmarried mothers give birth to 
children because of such an unconscious wish that has the 
effect of a compulsion. 9 These experiences have shown that 
residues of masculinity, or the wish for a male organ, can take 
a feminine form and be concealed behind the most motherly, 
most feminine attitude. 

An interesting contribution to this fantasy is supplied by 
Antoinette Bourignon, a nun who lived in the seventeenth 
century. She outlined religious-scientific theories according 
to which mankind will be saved when women achieve the 
capacity for giving birth to children by themselves, without 
the assistance of men. "This state of innocence," she writes, 
"is not that of asexuality, but a kind of hermaphroditism" 
(Cet etat d 'innocence rfest pas celui de rasexualite, mats une sorte 
d* hermaphroditisme) . Her biographers report that this nun 
used to associate her intellectual-productive activity with 
physical pain that had the character of labor pains: "She felt 
great bodily suffering and violent griping pains like a woman 

9 DEUTSCH, H.: Psychoanalyse der weiblichen Sexualfunktionen. 


in labor" (Elle ressentit de grandes douleurs corporelles et comme 
de pressantes tranchees d'un enfantemeni) 

In healthy, normal women, too, the organ trauma creates a 
disposition to later traumatic reactions. The old traumatic 
situation, in which the woman had no outlet for diverting 
her excitations, reappears in every case when the tension 
between wanting and being able to do something is increased, 
when the woman has to cope with difficult internal or external 
conflicts, or when regressive tendencies are mobilized. To 
these new difficulties also she reacts with anxiety and helpless- 
ness on the one hand and with intensified aggressive impulses 
on the other, and clearly displays residues of penis envy. 

The incompletely mastered ghosts of the past appear also in 
all those situations in which woman fulfils her biologic tasks 
or prepares her body for them. Puberty, all the reproductive 
functions, and the climacterium are those feminine situations 
in which the old trauma is mobilized and, normally, mastered. 
Nature gives woman abundant opportunities to exorcise these 
ghosts in the real active experience of motherhood. 

I REINACH, S.: Cultes, mythes et religions: une mystique au XVII. si&cle. Quoted 
by H. Deutsch, op. cit. 



Two groups of homosexual women can be distinguished. 
The first includes those individuals who display pro- 
nounced masculine traits in the choice of objects as well 
as in all other manifestations of life. The physical structure 
of women belonging to this group may also be more or less 
masculine. In some, the structure of the sexual organs has a 
hermaphroditic character, in others we are confronted with 
more or less prominent aberrations of the secondary sex 
characteristics. Such masculinization can affect either a large 
part of the body constitution or only isolated traits, such as the 
vocal cords, the hair growth, etc. Many cases are char- 
acterized only by the absence of certain feminine sex char- 
acteristics, such as breasts. Despite such obviously organic 
causes of their homosexuality, these women present many 
psychologic problems. This is not surprising, as the biologic 
verdict becomes definite only during puberty, while their 
previous development and education have followed the line 
of femininity. 

The second group of homosexual women includes those who 
show no physical signs of abnormity and whose bodily constitu- 
tion is completely feminine. The causes of their inversion 
are obviously psychogenic. fin these cases too puberty is the 
period of sexual decision. } Trie observation of bisexual tenden- 
cies in puberty has led to many important insights. It was 
found, for instance, that the homosexual object choice does 
not always express masculinity. The typical infatuation 
of this period, the young girl's ardent love for girl friends, may, 
despite its homosexual character, have a completely feminine 
content. The love can also be pronouncedly masculine and the 
bisexual tendencies may draw their masculine reinforcements 



from varied psychologic sources (fear of heterosexuality, 
identification with the father, brother, etc.) 

Homosexuality manifested in later life is usually a continua- 
tion of these puberty tendencies and either remains within 
the framework of femininity or assumes a more or less mas- 
culine character. These differences may be predetermined 
even before puberty. But as a rule, tremendous and decisive 
changes take place at the time of sexual maturation. A little 
girl or a girl in prepuberty may express her violent protest 
against her femininity in the wildest kind of tomboyishness, 
yet may turn to the most tender femininity during puberty. 
Conversely, even a very feminine girl can under certain circum- 
stances weather the storms of puberty only by turning toward 
masculinity and choosing a feminine love object. 

The view that female homosexuality is in the overwhelming 
majority of cases psychologically determined, is supported by 
the fact that a great number of women whose sexual love ob- 
jects are of the same sex do not give the impression that their 
physiologic characteristics have undergone changes in the 
direction of masculinity. Another noteworthy fact that 
points to complex psychologic motivation in the abnormal 
object choice is that many women whose entire emotional 
personality is masculine nevertheless choose men as their 
objects often even very masculine men and, conversely, 
that very feminine and passive women choose women as their 
love objects, sometimes exclusively. On the other hand, it 
seems that homosexual women with a rather marked bisexual 
disposition in their bodily structure usually also show definitely 
masculine interests, try to follow masculine professions, 
strongly emphasize their masculinity, and are masculine in 
their entire emotional life. In this case the existence of a 
biologic factor is assumed, manifesting itself in the sexual 
direction, and here homosexuality is explained by biologic 
processes. Isolated masculine sex characteristics can, how- 
ever, easily lead to the false inference that in these cases too 
homosexuality corresponds to a biologic factor, whereas we are 


in reality confronted with a purely psychologic manifestation. 
This point can be illustrated by the following two examples. 

I had occasion to observe an unmarried woman of about 
30, who liked to wear masculine clothes, followed masculine 
professions, and openly admitted her homosexuality. Her 
bodily structure was feminine, except for her voice, which was 
just like a man's. Closer examination revealed that no 
organic abnormality was responsible for the masculine be- 
havior. Her vocal characteristics had led her to think, even 
in her youth, that she should have been born a man, and that 
no one could love her; even as a very young girl she had been 
ridiculed and had turned away in discouragement from all 
things feminine. Depreciating and renouncing her own 
femininity, she had resolved to be a man; her homosexuality 
expressed not the existence of an organically determined urge, 
but an emotional need to love and at the same time to avoid 
her inferiority as a woman. Another instance is the case of a 
Polish legionnaire of the first world war, who, having been 
wounded, was found to be a girl, and came under my psychi- 
atric care. This i8-year-old-girl had pronouncedly masculine 
secondary sex characteristics (a mustache, no breasts, etc.) 
and, like the girl mentioned above, she felt inferior as a woman, 
emphasized her masculinity, and had many fantasies about 
heroic deeds that would make her famous and compensate 
her for her lack of feminine charm. She had joined the army 
as a nurse; later by dint of clever stratagems, shesucceeded 
in denying her sex and becoming a soldier. Apparently, once 
she had gratified her masculinity, her feminine nature as- 
serted its right more strongly than before, for she fell in love 
with another soldier. Her comrades decided that she was 
homosexual, for she at that time "he" could not conceal 
her erotic feelings. Her heterosexual relationship, which I 
observed in its subsequent development, had a favorable out- 

In these two cases as in many others the masculine sex 
characteristics exerted a strong psychologic influence without 


being the primary cause of sexually masculine feelings. These 
women protected themselves from their feminine inferiority 
by overemphasizing the other tendency. Others, on the 
contrary, negate their masculinity, even if they are urged in 
that direction by their biologic structure. As regards this 
point, the following personal observation of an androgynous 
woman whose homosexual tendencies had an unambiguously 
somatic basis, may be instructive. 

She was a girl of about 25, delicately built, with very feminine 
features and fair complexion, but with a deep voice and hair 
on her face. Among her women friends, her conduct was 
irreproachably feminine; she dressed coquettishly, tried in 
everyway to remove the hair on her face, and often complained 
bitterly about her organic constitution. She was very suc- 
cessful as an executive in an international organization, showed 
great energy in her chosen field, and all her professional be- 
havior, despite her protests, revealed an absolutely masculine- 
active character. To the surprise of all the young girls around 
her she fell passionately in love with a somewhat older, moth- 
erly married woman who was certainly below the mental level 
of this extremely intelligent girl. Her passionate infatuation 
was centered around a fantasy that the woman she had chosen 
for her love object had to be rescued from her husband, who 
was unworthy of her. This young girl acquired colossal 
energy in her courtship, her rescue intentions were compulsive, 
and she tried to abduct her beloved by a ruse. This behavior 
strongly reminds us of certain types of men described by 
Freud. 1 One of these types indulges in a rescue fantasy: the 
man chooses a disreputable woman as his love object and is 
convinced that his beloved needs him, and that by his love he 
must rescue her from prostitution. Freud also describes a type 
of man who loves a woman only if another man, as a rule the 
husband, can claim her as his property. 

The girl whose case we are describing fell in love in a way 
that represented a kind of combination of the erotic tendencies 

1 FREUD, S.: Contribution to the psychology of love. Collected Papers, vol. 4. 


of these two types of men: she chose a respectable woman for 
her love object, but had to rescue her from her unworthy 

At a certain point her ardent suit became public, for the 
woman's husband brought the aggressive lover to court for dis- 
turbing his married life and attempting to seduce his wife to 
homosexual relations. The epilogue was unexpected: the case 
aroused the interest of a well known sexologist, who discovered 
that the girl in question was a real hermaphrodite; he succeeded 
in transforming her into a man by an operation. The success 
of the operation was confirmed when the woman whom the 
"girl" had courted divorced her husband and was married and 
impregnated by the newly created man. The latter had had 
he declared no idea of his peculiar structure, and had con- 
sidered himself a homosexual woman. He later wrote and 
published a book called Vhe Girlhood 2 ears of a Man. 

Freud published an essay entitled "Psychogenesis of a Case 
of Homosexuality in a Woman," 2 in which he described the love 
history of a chaste young girl who was passionately in love with 
a high class prostitute and displayed the same rescue aspirations 
that he had described in men. 

The behavior in our case reminded us to a certain extent of 
Freud's patient, whose manner of loving was, according to 
Freud, strongly masculine. He left these questions unan- 
swered: Was the young girl he described a homosexual as a result 
of her constitution, or had the inversion been caused exclusively 
by the psychologic motives he discovered during his analysis of 

From a psychologic point of view it would naturally be of 
great interest to know whether the whole development of the 
above mentioned girl-man had proceeded along a straight line 
and whether the intensification of the sexual drive in puberty 
had strengthened the masculine tendencies as is the case with 
boys or whether the influences of the environment and the 
patient's own assumption that he was a woman had manifested 

1 Internat. J. Psycho-Analysis, vol. i, 1920. 


themselves in some way in spite of his anatomic constitution. 
We noted that the person in question, although organically a 
full-fledged male, displayed many feminine characteristics in 
his behavior. 

From the two cases previously described, we conclude that 
physiologic factors are not always fully and directly responsible 
for the woman's masculine and homosexual behavior, and that 
psychologic motives play a part. Conversely, from our last 
case, it follows that if we are confronted with an erotic behavior 
in a homosexual woman in which activity and aggression are 
predominant, we must take into consideration the physiologic 
causes. These may be at work even when the organic signs are 
less obvious than in the case of our sensational lover. 

The experiments linking sexual functions to chemical hor- 
monal factors draw our attention more and more in this direc- 
tion. We no longer explain the manifestations of bisexuality 
by an innate, organic, and fixed fact, but by a predisposition, 
stimulated or inhibited by hormonal influences, that operates in 
one or the other direction. 

/ During the years of puberty, the fate of the sexual drives is 
aefinitely decided, and as a rule the development of secondary 
sex characteristics is combined with their orientation toward the 
other sex. This decision depends on both biologic and psycho- 
logic influences, and it is to be expected that our knowledge of 
the interplay of the two factors will some day be so broadened 
and clarified that no discussion will be necessary as to which 
factor is primary and which secondary. Here our task is 
limited to investigating the psychologic processes attendant 
upon the development of female homosexuality, without regard 
to whether biologic factors contribute to or even determine the 
final result. 

In any case it is certain that normally puberty includes a 
phase in which the sexual drive is directed more or less toward 
both sexes. This phase is preceded by another in which the 
individual's erotic interest seems to be turned to his own sex 
more than to the other. This condition of bisexuality or 


homosexuality can extend beyond puberty, the inclination 
toward individuals of the same sex may remain predominant or 
even exclude that toward individuals of the other sex. In the 
former case the woman chooses now one, now the other sex for 
erotic association; in the latter her choices become completely 
homosexual. JThus homosexuality, in form and content, 
appears as a continuation of puberty experiences, as their 
intensification and further elaboration.! 

It may be useful to cast a glance backward and recall the 
processes of puberty relevant to our subject. Even in pre- 
puberty the object that attracted the girl's greatest emotional 
interest was another girl, a kind of double of her own ego. This 
relationship gave the weak personality of the growing girl 
several advantages, in particular a certain protection against 
too strong ties with members of her family, especially against 
her ties with her mother; moreover, her own helpless ego was 
strengthened and made to feel more secure among the grownups 
as a result of her association with her friend. This relationship 
is a typical example of a narcissistic love choice, that is to say, 
love for a being with whom one identifies oneself and with whom 
self-love can be gratified. Common pursuits and learning 
about forbidden things endow this relationship with thrilling 
excitement, and the content of the common secrets gives it its 
sexual character. 

The continuation of such a relationship in later life constitutes 
the most naive and least complicated form of feminine homo- 
sexuality. The content of the secret changes and sexual curi- 
osity is turned toward other problems, depending upon the 
cultural level of the partners. The objects may change, but 
the conditions of this relationship remain the same: "my best 
friend" is the one to whom the most intimate secrets may be 
confided and from whom similar confidences can be expected; 
the woman allies herself with her friend against the "others," 
usually members of her family, she experiences her friend's 
successes and failures as though they were her own, etc. 
Through identification the woman can be elated by the successes 


of her alter ego and thus ease the pressure of her inferiority 
feelings. And she creates a little world, represented by her 
friend, that admires her own achievements, modest as they may 
be. In this exchange of comfort and admiration, this mutual 
adjustment of demands, and this easing of inferiority feelings 
by committing sins together and mutually granting absolution, 
there is gratification, and security; certain feminine types pre- 
serve such relationships for life. The sexual ingredient of this 
relationship usually remains unconscious, but the mutual ten- 
derness often has an erotic character. 

This union of two persons of the same sex can assume various 
forms; the mildest form is the most frequent. It does not 
exclude a heterosexual relationship, and such friendships 
usually are not given up even after the partners have married; 
even then the prepuberty form of the relationship is continued. 
It is surprising how of^en a well bred and discreet woman, with- 
out the slightest embarrassment and with obvious pleasure, 
confides the most intimate details of her married life to her 
woman friend. If she has nothing exciting to report, she 
sometimes exactly as in puberty provokes or invents experi- 
ences in order to enjoy whispering about these to her friend. 

This most harmless form of homosexuality is an infantile 
trait that either affects the entire personality or represents 
merely a partial inhibition of growing up, without other mani- 
festations. The other ingredients of the personality may be 
more mature. 

The next form of homosexuality also involves love for a girl 
of the same age or slightly older. The two-girl relationships of 
later puberty are on a more adult level and more complicated 
than in prepuberty and early puberty; the manifestations are 
varied, full of conflict and ambivalence. The relationship can 
have the character of a completely sublimated friendship or its 
content may be tender-erotic and sometimes even openly sexual. 
This relation between two girls of the same age that is continued 
in later life and is often extremely passionate, usually takes 
place within the framework of unresolved bisexuality. The 


question "Am I a man or a woman" ? the irresolution that we 
have mentioned before continues unconsciously later as "Do 
I love a man or a woman ?" The antagonism of these mutually 
exclusive tendencies ends either in the predominance of one or 
in a compromise. The two components may also subsist with 
equal strength in one individual and in this case the conflict 
continues unsolved. As a result of this inner irresolution, 
various tendencies become mixed. The competition of antago- 
nistic forces may lead to a settlement in favor of homosexuality 
or heterosexuality. The normal or the abnormal outcome 
represents a parallelogram of various forces; the unity is only 
apparent. Analytic observation shows that this unity does 
not express a real inner decision, a triumph of one of the two 
components of bisexuality, but that it contains forces that serve 
the other component too. If the outcome is normal, that is, 
heterosexuality, inhibitions or symptoms occur in which 
analysis discovers the repressed homosexual ingredient, just as 
in homosexuality it discovers heterosexual elements. 

Our psychologic insight is greatly aided by the fact that many 
overtly homosexual women are acutely introspective; this 
enables them to confirm directly the laborious findings of 

In other women, whose homosexuality has seemingly been 
successfully repressed and who manifest it only indirectly 
through disturbances of their heterosexual erotic life, attempts 
to approach the problem of homosexuality meet with a resist- 
ance that is extremely difficult to overcome. These women 
insist that they have never loved anyone of their own sex, that 
they hate their mothers, that all their lives they have avoided 
close association with their sisters, and that they have always 
been interested in men, although usually without any marked 

Gradually one learns why this is so. To quote only one 
special case as an example: there is the woman who feels 
burning jealousy of another woman of a definite type who as if 
by accident appears on the scene as a rival each time she be- 


comes seriously interested in a man, and who again and again 
spoils her heterosexual relation. Analysis reveals that the 
woman's interest in her rival antedates her interest in the man, 
who only serves as a diversion. Here the repressed homosexual 
attraction takes the form of jealousy that causes the pseudo- 
heterosexual interest to founder. The emergence of repressed 
homosexual tendencies in the form of jealousy was described 
by Freud. 8 

In less repressed forms, tender love is acknowledged but the 
sexual ingredient is denied. Homosexual love is usually more 
passionate and more violently bound to the object than hetero- 
sexual love, even if it lacks the desire for direct sexual gratifica- 
tion. This form of homosexuality is much more frequent among 
women than among men; it is less conspicuous and it never 
comes into conflict with the law, which, like public opinion, has 
more confidence in the platonic character of feminine than of 
masculine homosexuality. The passion develops within four 
walls, so to speak, and despite its violence its sexual aspect often 
remains permanently hidden. Woman's propensity to sub- 
limate her sexuality into goal-inhibited eroticism manifests 
itself especially in her homosexuality. 

Returning to the puberty situation, we recall that in this 
period the homosexual tendencies are directed toward two kinds 
of persons: a girl of the same age or somewhat older, and a 
mature woman. The character of the latter varies: in some 
cases she is a harsh teacher, in others a gentle, highly idealized 
group leader. Both of these object choices have the same 
attraction. They are conceived as perfect beings. Other girls, 
however, fall in love, and passionately, too, with sexually dis- 
reputable women: this was the case, for instance, with the 
patient described by Freud. These kinds of love choice con- 
tinue in later life in different forms. 

The degree of consciousness or unconsciousness of the homo- 
sexual tendency is not of decisive importance in determining its 

8 FREUD, S.: Certain neurotic mechanisms in jealousy, paranoia, and homosexuality. 
Collected Papers, vol. 2. 


intensity or origin. Furthermore, the perversion often affects 
women who could easily have gratified heterosexual wishes; 
however, either they did not have such wishes, or the gratifica- 
tion of these wishes, instead of yielding happiness, only intensi- 
fied their yearning for their own sex. 

We have repeatedly referred to a bisexual disposition, and 
from a psychologic point of view we have sufficient proof of its 
existence. In puberty, this disposition manifests itself with 
increased intensity, but it often manifests itself earlier in a naive 
form. In George Sand, for instance, it asserted itself when as 
a young child she play-acted her bisexuality in front of a mirror. 
To transform the play into a serious pursuit, the constitutional 
bisexuality must be combined with psychologic motives that 
make a finally favorable outcome impossible. The goal of 
psychologic development is not to resolve this irresolution com- 
pletely; its task is only to distribute the normal bisexual 
tendencies quantitatively, and in the process to turn those 
components that would lead to homosexuality to goals advan- 
tageous for the feminine individual and her normal sexuality, 
We have underlined the importance of a favorable association 
with a person of the same sex, especially in the early stages of 
puberty. This association is important, not only because it 
constitutes a protective shield against a regressive return to 
the mother, but also because the homosexual component de- 
velops more favorably than when it is repressed and absent. 
In such a relationship the unusable surplus of homosexual 
tendencies can be best disposed of. This takes place partly by 
their gratification, partly by sublimation, partly by the acting 
out of the ambivalent feelings relating to the mother, etc. Ex- 
perience teaches us that a certain amount of real activity affords 
the best protection against excessive fantasy indulgence, and 
therefore also against the abnormal development of the homo- 
sexual tendencies. 

Innate bisexuality as the biologic background of the triangle 
assumes an abnormal significance only if unfavorable influences 
are at work. We shall not deal here with persons in whom, as in 


our case of hermaphroditism, physiologic processes have caused 
a deviation of the sexual development. We shall devote our 
attention instead to the psychologic motives that we hold 
responsible for female homosexuality. Even in the most 
normal puberty, the still unconscious sexual yearnings of the 
girl in the psychologic triangle are seen to swing between the 
two poles of bisexuality, between attraction and repulsion. 
Prospects of wish fulfillment are the pole of attraction; frustra- 
tion, anxiety, and mobilization of guilt feelings are the pole of 
repulsion. Owing to the complexity of all psychologic processes, 
attraction and repulsion are not evenly distributed; they 
operate in both directions, hence the constant wavering that 
expresses itself as the sexual irresolution described above. One 
of the worst possible results of this wavering is a state of con- 
stant suspension in an objectless narcissism. Many of the 
emotional disturbances that appear in puberty, such as insensi- 
tivity, depersonalization, feelings of estrangement, correspond 
to such an irresolution before a heterosexual and homosexual 
object choice, and result in a subsequent petrification of the 
emotional life. The greater the fear of the real demands made 
by sexual life, the stronger will be the effects of inner irresolu- 
tion, the more regressive elements will enter into the emotional 
life, and the more features of the old tie with the parents will be 
taken over by the persons in the fantasy triangle. In any 
attempt to realize these fantasies and love wishes, the choice of 
the love objects will depend on the still existing and intensified 
tie with the parents. 

The strength and continued effect of this tie will above all 
depend on the real events of puberty. In this life period the 
role of the parents is still very real and its transference to other 
persons occurs regularly. We recall Helen's (p. 82) and 
Evelyn's (p. 37) traumatic experiences. These took place 
entirely within the framework of the family. Thus one of the 
poles we mentioned above is the father or his substitute, the 
other the mother or her substitute. The subsequent fate of the 
triangle is determined by the girl's sensitivity to love frustra- 
tion, her propensity for strong hate reactions and their over- 


compensation by love, her fears of the one or the other, the 
elements of eroticism in her tenderness for her parents and of 
guilt feelings in her hostility toward them. In other words, 
the sum total of these feelings will determine the effect of the 
attraction or repulsion of the two poles. The traumatic 
experiences of puberty that constitute the last factor to provoke 
the sexual decision as to homosexuality or heterosexual} ty, are 
particularly dependent on events within the family. For 
instance, the birth of a new child during the girl's puberty can 
have strongly traumatic effects. We have previously noted 
another traumatic situation, the timid withdrawal of the father 
from his growing daughter. The failure of the sublimated rela- 
tion between the two may deeply injure the girl and cause her 
resentfully to turn away from her father. Various outcomes of 
this situation are possible: in one the girl provokes an open fight 
with the father by her frivolous behavior, the previously de- 
scribed prostitution fantasies are mobilized, and promiscuity 
may result. Another form of turning away from the father is 
a more intensive sublimation, frequently on the basis of pre- 
viously shared interests, with the girl defiantly maintaining, 
"I don't need you any longer, for now I can do what you do." 
If this identification encroaches upon the sexual domain, the 
girl's disappointment in her father results in intensified homo- 
sexual tendencies. 

Observation seems to show that an increased fear of the father 
during puberty can strengthen the girl's masochistic tie to him. 
This fear can also set off the defense mechanism described by 
A. Freud 4 as identification with the aggressor. The girl then 
need not fear her father, for she herself is as strong and mascu- 
line as he. This kind of identification, resulting from fear, is a 
frequent motive for homosexuality. The girl's previously harm- 
less friendship with another girl assumes a sadomasochistic 
character; in other cases, the object is changed, the initiative of 
the choice remains with the aggressive one; the other girl's 
tendency to submissiveness completes the alliance. 

4 Op. cit. 


Sometimes the girl's sublimated relation with her father has 
involved her playing the role of son. When this relation col- 
lapses, the role of son is continued with regard to a woman. 
In such cases, the girl not only displays all the gallantry of a 
boy in love with a mature woman, but she also directs her 
ambitions to the end of being admired by the woman, instead 
of by her parents. 

A typical feature of overt female homosexuality is exchange 
of roles between the partners, even when one of them is more 
active and sadistic and the other more passive and masochistic. 
Because of their great facility in identifying themselves with 
love objects of the same sex, women can play the two roles. 
This fact is one of the most powerful motives tor female homo- 

Frequently the homosexual relation takes place in a triangle 
composed exclusively of women: the homosexual woman 
usually remains faithful to one of her two partners, while she 
changes the other. Observation of several such cases has 
shown that the homosexual girl plays the role of the aggressive 
partner (usually in identification with the father) with regard 
to one of her friends, and that of a humble and submissive 
object (boy or girl) with regard to the other. 

One often meets pairs of girls who call each oth^r by mascu- 
line pet names, very often without realizing that sexual love is 
present in their tenderness. Such relations are not concealed, 
especially when they take place within the framework of com- 
mon sublimations and without directly sexual activity. The 
prerequisite of harmony in such relationships is that they 
should not be disturbed by excessive sadomasochistic compo- 
nents, but this usually does occur. 

If her friend retains her feminine character, the homosexual 
girl plays the two roles all the more easily: she gives herself all 
the masculine qualities and simultaneously enjoys the expecta- 
tion, excitement, dependence, and devotion of her own passive 
femininity now projected in the other. In Vhe transposed 
Heads , Thomas Mann writes: 


But after all they were not one like Siva, who is life and death, world and 
eternity in the Mother, but manifested as two entities here below; thus they 
were to each other like images. The my-feeling of each was tired of itself, 
and though each was aware that after all everything consists of what it has 
not got, yet on account of their very differences they intrigued each other 

The differences and similarity, nonidentity and yet identity, the 
quasidouble experience of oneself, the simultaneous liberation 
from one part of one's ego and its preservation and security in 
the possession of the other, are among the attractions of the 
homosexual experience. 

Analysis shows that ardent homosexual infatuations of young 
girls very often follow the same course. First there is a pas- 
sionate heterosexual love fantasy that is somehow thwarted. 
The fantasy persists, but with two alterations: the passive expec- 
tation of being desired becomes active desiring, and the girl, 
instead of choosing a masculine object, herself becomes a man 
through identification. The pseudologic girl who writes herselt 
passionate love letters and enjoys these as though they came 
from a boy in love, is not far removed psychologically from the 
girl who writes love letters to another girl. Every individual 
act of the homosexual in love expresses a nonfulfilled hetero- 
sexual hope. The more passionate the girl is in her narcissistic 
desire to be loved, the more ardent will be her active wooing oi 
the "other." If her wooing is threatened with success, she re- 
treats, for all her action is supposed to take place within the 
framework of a fantasy acted out. The motive for this form of 
erotic experience lies either in a heterosexual disappointment 
or, more frequently, in the fear of heterosexual realization and 
in the adolescent tendency to experience emotions not directly, 
but through identification. 

In La ^agabonde^ Colette describes this relation beautifully: 

Two women embracing are a melancholy and touching picture of two weak- 
nesses; perhaps they are taking refuge in each other's arms in order to sleep 
there, weep, flee from man who is often wicked, and to taste what is more 
desired than any pleasure, the bitter happiness of feeling similar, insignificant, 


This relation often grows very intense with regard to a sister, 
particularly if the two girls are very near each other in age, or 
have only brothers or older sisters, or are made strongly depend- 
ent upon each other as a result of marital conflicts between 
their parents, or by solitude. This love, which is probably 
accompanied by a great deal of overcompensated hatred and 
jealousy, often survives puberty and is so passionate that it can 
lead to tragic complications. I myself observed two double 
suicides, of pairs of sisters who were involved in overtly sexual, 
tragic love for each other. 

Various rescue fantasies too are found in these homosexual 
adventures. The "other" suffers from bondage to school or 
family, leads a life unworthy of her, and must be freed with the 
help of the infatuated girl. Thus her own revolutionary tend- 
ency to liberate herself finds expression in the fantasy of 
rescuing her friend. 

Disreputable women are often desired by young girls out of 
a kind of burning curiosity; in such loves, the girl's own prosti- 
tution fantasies are realized by identification with the beloved. 
Schoolgirls walk by houses of ill repute with anxiously pounding 
hearts; the attraction of the inmates, known only from a dis- 
tance, can be very powerful. Naturally, such immature erotic 
games can become stabilized and permanent. 

In studying this problem, our most striking finding has been 
that masculine tendencies in a woman are not always and 
even not in the majority of cases responsible for her homo- 
sexuality. One might expect that the psychologic motives 
leading to the formation of the masculinity complex can also 
supply the motive for homosexuality. But the question must 
be left open whether, in cases of strongly active-masculine be- 
havior, biologic factors are not involved after all. In the large 
majority of cases, however, neither biologic nor psychologic 
masculinity is the sole motive for homosexuality, even when 
appearances seem to support this view. 

There is a form of homosexuality in which masculinity is par- 
ticularly ostentatious. We refer here to the active women who 


try to seduce other women by promising them wondrous satis- 
factions. "Try it once with me," one such woman used to say 
to her love object. "No man in the world can give you what I 

She insisted that she had never disappointed anyone sexually. 
This woman behaved like a male, yet her goal was not really 
masculine at all. She accurately directed her attentions to 
those who unconsciously longed for the kind of gratification 
that an active woman actually is more capable of giving than 
a man. Her words "no man" unconsciously hinted at certain 
practices in which the breasts play a prominent part. In this 
form of homosexuality the masculine gesture is actually only a 
means of wooing and a pretext, for the sexual goal that is de- 
sired completely excludes the masculine. 

This type of homosexuality, in which there is no question of 
wanting to be a man, seems to be more accessible to analytic 
investigation, because it is often connected with neurotic dis- 
turbances, whereas the masculine forms less frequently supply 
opportunity for psychiatric treatment, since most of these 
women accept the fact of their inversion and do not desire to be 

One woman who submitted to psychoanalytic treatment for 
neurotic difficulties presented a picture of manifest yet not 
practiced inversion. She was perfectly aware of the fact that 
her erotic capacity and sexual fantasy were homosexual in 
character; she had unquestionably been sexually aroused when 
embracing or kissing certain women for whom she felt love. 
Her relation to these women was monogamous and faithful, but 
purely platonic, even when she knew that these women had 
perverted tendencies like her own. While it is impossible to 
say that she was attracted by any definite type of woman, it 
was not at any rate the masculine type; our patient herself was 
blonde and very feminine. She felt no hostility toward men, 
had a number of male friends, and did not object to being liked 
and courted by men. Out of sympathy, she married a man of 
outspoken masculine appearance and had several children by 


him; her feelings for them, although not excessively warm, were 
nevertheless motherly. 

She could not state why her homosexuality had not become 
more active and urgent; she only knew that she had strong inhi- 
bitions against it, which she rationalized by social timidity, 
family obligations, and fear of psychic subjugation. She could 
trace her love feelings for women back to puberty, when they 
began in a typical adolescent way, directed toward teachers or 
other individuals in authority. Whether these persons were 
distinguished by particular severity is not certain; at any rate 
the patient was dominated by two feelings a feeling of being 
sheltered and, on the other hand, a feeling of fear of the individ- 
ual in question. She was never really in love with a man; she 
had first been attracted to her husband because she had found 
in him a particularly active and masculine personality. But 
she had been disappointed in him from the start, because, as 
she said, he had failed to come to her expectations. He lacked 
sexual passion; he also remained passive in situations in which 
she had expected him to be master. 

For many years she had been suffering from depression and 
feelings of anxiety with a particular ideational content: she 
could not find the courage to assume the proper authoritative 
attitude toward women in her employ. As a matter of fact, she 
expected a great deal of her maids and was upset when they 
failed to meet her demands, but she was quite unable to give 
them orders, much less to reprimand them. In situations that 
required this of her, she was overcome by feelings oftimidity 
and anxiety in the presence of the person to be reproved. With 
every change in the personnel of her household, and with the 
consequent anticipation of contact with a new woman, her 
anxiety and conflict were greatly intensified. In these situa- 
tions, moreover, she consciously reproached her husband for his 
lack of zeal in protecting and supporting her. Many women, 
even women who are not homosexual, have such difficulties 
with their women servants. These difficulties always point to 
an unresolved conflict with the mother. This, as we shall see, 
was the case with our patient. 


Our patient's depressions had become more and more fre- 
quent in recent years and were intimately associated with the 
danger of suicide. She had already made a number of unsuc- 
cessful suicidal attempts; the last one had brought her to the 
verge of death. 

Even though this patient was dominated by strong sadistic 
tendencies, her conscious personality was more reactive in 
character. She was kind and gentle, but showed unmistakable 
obsessional-neurotic traits, such as exaggerated decorum and 
propriety. Her relation to her psychoanalyst was very pro- 
nounced and over a long period of time revealed nothing 
except tenderness, respect, and a feeling of safety. She was 
very happy and felt as if she had at last found a kind and under- 
standing mother who could give her all that her own mother had 
denied to her. Her mother had been a stern, cold person whom 
the patient hated all her life. After her mother's death (which 
occurred several years before the analysis began), the patient 
had a severe depression, during which she made one of her 
attempts at suicide. 

During her treatment she had several attacks of depression. 
They were always accompanied by characteristic dreams and 
brought to light certain definite material. Without presenting 
these dreams in detail, I may state that they contained practi- 
cally everything we know about uterine symbolism; they were 
dreams of dark holes and crevices into which the patient 
crawled, dreams of comfortable dark places in which she felt 
at home and in which she lingered with a feeling of peace and 
release. These dreams appeared at a time when she was 
obsessed by a conscious yearning for death. Our patient 
repeatedly asserted that had it not been for her confidence in 
psychoanalysis, nothing could have kept her from committing 
suicide. One special dream picture kept reappearing in these 
dreams: the patient saw herself as an infant swaddled with 
strips of tape or bandages. With these dreams as a guide, it 
was possible to revive two memories that had remained sub- 
conscious until then. One related to an incident directly fol- 
lowing her latest attemot at suicide (with ooison). She awoke 


from a deep unconsciousness while still strapped to a stretcher, 
she saw the doctor leaning over her with a kind smile, realized 
that he had saved her life (this was actually the case), and 
thought: "This time you have saved me, but after all you can't 
give me any real help." 

The other memory related to a dangerous operation that her 
mother had undergone. The patient remembered seeing her 
mother wrapped up as she herself was to be later after her 
attempt at suicide transported on a stretcher to the operating 

Gradually there came to the surface childhood memories that 
gave access to the patient's hitherto repressed murderous hate 
toward her mother. These memories went back to the time 
between her fourth and sixth years when she was masturbating 
to an alarming extent, at least from her mother's point of view. 
Whether her masturbation really exceeded the normal amount 
we could not determine, nor could we get at the content of the 
fantasies that presumably had accompanied her masturbation. 
But it is a fact, according to the patient's statement, that the 
mother resorted to the following method. She tied the girl's 
hands and feet, strapped them with a belt to the railing of her 
bed, stood beside her and said: "Now play if you can!" 

This aroused two reactions in the little girl: one was ungov- 
ernable rage against her mother, which was restrained by the 
fetters from discharge in motor activity. The other was in- 
tense sexual excitement, which she tried to satisfy by rubbing 
her buttocks against the bedding, regardless of her mother's 
presence, or perhaps in order to vent her spite against her 

The most dreadful element in this scene was for her the fact 
that her father, summoned by her mother, was a passive witness 
and did not offer to help his little daughter despite his tender 
affection for her. 

After this incident our patient stopped masturbating, and 
with this renunciation for a long while repressed her sexuality. 
At the same time she repressed her hatred for her mother, to 
which she had in reality never given full expression. 


I do not believe that the scene with her mother was traumatic 
in the sense of causing the patient's later homosexual attitude. 
Many scientific works on perversion wrongly tend to ascribe 
causal significance to such incidents. In our view, in this scene 
were concentrated all the tendencies that had a determining 
influence on our patient's whole sexual life. Her reproach that 
her mother had forbidden her to masturbate would certainly 
have been present even without this scene. The hate reaction 
against her mother, in accordance with the patient's aggressive 
constitution, was also to be seen in other childhood situations, 
as well as the reproach that her father did not protect her from 
her mother. But this scene brought all these tendencies to the 
boiling point and thus became the prototype for later events. 

From this time on, all sexual excitement was bound up with 
the mother's prohibition and with the most intense aggressive 
impulses toward the mother. Our patient's entire psychic 
personality resisted these hate impulses, and, as a reaction to 
them, there awakened in her an intense sense of guilt toward 
her mother, which led to a transformation of the hate into maso- 
chistic love for her. This accounted for the patient's fear of 
"enslavement," by which she explained her failure to have 
homosexual love affairs. She was indeed afraid of being 
masochistically attached to her mother. It will also become 
clear why she was afraid of the women in her employ and why 
she chided her husband for not adequately protecting her 
against them. The inner associative connection between the 
childhood incident, her mother's dangerous operation, and her 
own attempts at suicide were clearly manifested in her dreams. 
Her feelings that the kind doctor who had saved her life was 
nevertheless unable to help her, gave expression to the disap- 
pointment in her father that she never overcame. 

Contrary to our expectations, this overtly homosexual 
woman exhibited no trace of the masculinity complex. True, 
in puberty she had gone through a phase in which she displayed 
unmistakable signs of a strong propensity for activity of a mas- 
culine character. She developed interests that, especially for 
her generation, were fairly unusual in a girl of her class. This 


element of masculinity was then and remained throughout our 
patient's life brilliantly sublimated. Her identification with 
her father had an important relation to her intellectual interests, 
but played no part in her perverse inclinations. 

As a result of the treatment, the patient was liberated from 
her anxiety and her condemnation of her disposition, which she 
herself had regarded as "sinful"; she was also able to overcome 
her grave neurosis. Her states of depression ceased completely 
and she became a happy person. The longing for death that 
had always accompanied her constant feeling of solitude and 
unsatisfied desire disappeared. She found happiness in a now 
uninhibited love relation with a woman. This relation had a 
form that was unmistakably connected with early childhood 
functions. No male-female contrast appeared in this relation- 
ship; the essential contrast was that of activity and passivity. 
With conscious understanding of their situation, the two 
women enacted a mother-child relation, in which sometimes one, 
sometimes the other played the mother a play with double 
roles, so to speak. One had the impression that the feeling of 
happiness lay in the possibility of being able to play both roles. 
Sexual gratification sought in this homosexual love involved 
chiefly the mouth and the external genitals. It goes without 
saying that the experience fell far below what psychoanalysis 
demands of an adult personality; on the contrary, in such infan- 
tile substitutes for sexual gratifications analysis sees the danger 
of and not the cure for neurotic illness. But sometimes the 
therapeutic goal can be achieved only through a compromise. 
In this case, analytic treatment did not lead to the patient's 
renouncing homosexuality and turning toward men; thus its real 
task was not fulfilled. But it succeeded in bringing the un- 
happy woman who was constantly on the verge of suicide to a 
point where, by mastering her fear of and her hostility toward 
her mother, she could achieve tenderness and sexual gratifica- 
tion. A better solution of the fatal mother tie proved im- 

We understood the course of the patient's development: after 


a phase of sexual irresolution during which she was still willing 
to love a man if he proved strong enough to save her from the 
danger represented by her mother, she gave up this hope. All 
men would prove as weak as her father (her husband, her smil- 
ing physician) ; she would have to remain in a state of murderous 
hatred toward her mother and punish herself for it by death. 
She could be happy and live only if she succeeded in being recon- 
ciled with her mother. Such reconciliation was possible only 
through a complicated regressive process, bringing her back to 
that phase of her life when her mother as the child's first love 
object was still loved, and gratified her wishes. The patient's 
hatred was transformed into deep longing for her mother, 
which found expression in death symbolism (the patient's 
dreams and attempts at suicide) and homosexual love. In the 
realization of this love, the incidents that had resulted in her 
hatred for her mother had to be made up for retrogress! vely: 
the mother who had forbidden sexual gratification through 
masturbation was required now not to forbid it, nay, to approve 
it by actively contributing to it. The mother's past denials of 
love, and her severe punishments, had to be made good by sub- 
sequent gratification, and this both in the passive experience in 
which the mother gave, instead of forbidding, and in the active 
experience in which the patient herself assumed the role of 

In such a relation the highest gratification of homosexuality 
can be attained. The often heard remark of the little child 
"When you are little and I am big" can be realized in a situa- 
tion permitting the child to do everything to his mother that 
the mother once did to him. 

The form that homosexual activity assumes in cases like that 
of our patient depends on the stage of development in which the 
relationship to the mother is determined. If the aim is to make 
good the genital trauma and to gratify penis envy, a phallic 
activity will develop and the homosexual relation will have a 
masculine character. If, on the other hand, the renewal of the 
mother-child relationship is more infantile as was the case with 


our patient the activity will be localized in those bodily zones 
that are connected with gratification of early childhood instinc- 
tual urges. The predilection for the oral zone in the sexual 
activities of homosexual women is connected with this mother 

Most investigators have overlooked the frequency with which 
female homosexuality assumes this form, a form we have traced 
back to a repressed longing for the mother. These women 
stand in a more or less consciously recognized mother-child 
relationship to their homosexual love objects. To sleep to- 
gether closely embraced, to suck each other's nipples, to feel 
masturbatory genital and anal excitations, to practice intensive 
mutual cunnilingus such are the forms of gratification sought 
by this type of homosexual. 

One woman I observed in a psychoanalytic treatment divided 
this double role between two types of objects. One type, 
represented by an insignificant, needy young girl, would take 
the part of the child; the other role would be taken by an older, 
very energetic and authoritative woman with whom she herself 
played the part of the helpless little girl. The latter kind of 
relationship usually began when the patient, who was very 
active and professionally ambitious, entered into a, sublimated 
relationship with another woman, remained for a short time in 
a scarcely noticeable attitude of competition, and then began 
to fail in her work in a clearly neurotic way, so that she would 
be in a subordinate position in relation to the particular woman 
in question. Thus, for example, she would begin technical 
work in collaboration with an older woman; in the end she was 
playing the part of a secretary, although she was perhaps the 
more talented of the two. If sexual approaches were made 
during their collaboration, the other woman always took the role 
of the active seducer. 

Here is this woman's life history. She had many sisters and 
two brothers, of whom only one, by four years her elder, played 
a role in her life. When she was only 9 months old, her mother 
gave birth to a girl, who competed with her for the mother's 


breast. For a long time she remained in a competitive relation 
with this sister, to whom, even in childhood, she gave preced- 
ence obviously as a result of overcompensation. Thus as a 
very young child she heard that when there is such a slight 
difference in age and such a striking resemblance between two 
sisters as there was between her and this sister, only one of them 
could marry and have children. She thus retired from the 
feminine role in favor of her sister; and in adolescence, when 
her parents were divorced after the birth of the last child, she 
waived her claim to the father to the advantage of her sister 
and remained with her mother. 

At a very early age she displayed reaction formations on the 
basis of aggressive tendencies that, arising before the birth of 
the next sister (when she was 6) were suggestive of obsessional 
neurosis; they did not, however, develop to any great degree. 
During her mother's pregnancy at that time she reproached 
herself bitterly for not being as kind to her mother and the ex- 
pected baby as her younger sister, who, she was convinced, 
prayed nightly for the welfare of her mother and the baby. 

Her aggressive reactions related chiefly to her pregnant 
mother and the unborn child. This woman's life was always 
under the pressure of guilt feelings, and the formation of her 
character resulted from her attempts to compensate by kind- 
ness her murderous hatred for her mother and the child. 

During her mother's next two pregnancies she again gave 
birth to girls the same reaction occurred, and the psychic 
situation of the child changed only with the birth of her young- 
est sister, when she was 12 years old. Previously, in her earlier 
childhood, she had always thought of her father as a mysterious, 
strange, and powerful man, in whose presence one could not 
help feeling timid and anxious; but her attitude gradually 
changed, for the father had acquired a heart ailment that 
finally incapacitated him for work. The family was thus in- 
volved in material difficulties, and this induced in the little girl 
the desire to take over her father's role. She then gave free 
play to fantasies in which she held high positions and supported 


her family. As a matter of fact, by dint of hard work, she 
later realized these fantasies. 

In spite of the identification with her father and in spite of the 
fact that she envied her brother's masculinity, her attitude at 
the time of her youngest sister's birth was completely feminine. 
She was now highly pleased with the role of being a "little 
mother," and claimed the newborn child entirely for herself. 
In this situation she was behaving exactly like every normal 
girl. Her relation to her father too was normal at that time. 
After she had dethroned him from his position of supreme and 
unapproachable power, she could overcome her intense fear and 
love him tenderly. 

With this turning toward her father she fell into new diffi- 
culties. Her sense of guilt toward her mother was too strong 
to stand the additional charge that would have resulted from 
rivalry with her for the father's affections. And so she re- 
nounced as she had once renounced competition with her 
younger sister competition for her father's love and again, this 
time definitely, turned toward her mother. 

This woman's homosexuality had a manifold psychologic 
determination. She negated just like the other patient her 
childish angry hatred for her mother and her envy, of the new- 
born baby, by re-experiencing the old situations that obviously 
still survived in her emotions and, in contrast to their actual 
nature in the past, endowed them with a gratifying character. 
In her sexual experiences with women older than herself, she 
assumed the role of the child who re-experiences the delights of 
being loved by her mother and fed from her mother's breast. 
Her passive and submissive attitude toward these older love 
objects still bore the traces of her old guilt-laden relationship 
to her mother. 

Her erotic relations with younger women gave her an oppor- 
tunity to gratify other wishes. The type of relationship that 
she had with the young girls corresponded not only to the active 
part of the original mother-child relationship, in which she made 
a typical identification with the nourishing mother, but quite 


clearly made use of new elements taken from the time of her 
puberty, when her youngest sister was born. The young girl 
was always a surrogate for her youngest sister toward whom 
she actually had assumed a maternal role as a lifelong sublima- 
tion but she was unsublimatedly homosexual with her love 
object, another young girl of her little sister's age. In this 
relationship, she was at times the mother who suckles her child 
and at times the suckled child herself. In this sexual experience 
she was able to transform the hate of her mother into love, for 
she was given the mother's breast; at the same time, she could 
be the active, suckling mother and thereby transform the 
aggression against her mother into activity. 

In these two briefly sketched case histories 5 of female homo- 
sexuality, we observe that the instinct aberration was caused 
not by biologic predisposition, but by childhood events. In 
view of the deep intimacy of the mother-child relationship, we 
should not be surprised to find that longing for the mother, 
strengthened by a sense of guilt, can dominate a woman's 
affective life and exert an influence on her sexual desires. In 
the first of our two cases, the yearning for the mother was 
associated with a desire for death. The transformation of this 
wish into sexual gratification proved our patient's salvation, a 
life-affirming protection against destruction. 

We selected these two cases from among a large number of 
others. Going over the recorded experiences of specialists in 
the sexual field, we are struck by their strong tendency to ex- 
plain inversion by purely biologic causes and to neglect deeper 
psychologic motives. More particularly, the motive consti- 
tuted by the mother tie is seemingly overlooked by the majority 
of writers. For instance, one of the women whom Havelock 
Ellis mentions in his material, reported that she had had her 
first erotic experience, at the age of 16, with a woman: 

I felt like an orphan child who had suddenly acquired a mother, and 
through her I began to feel less antagonistic to grown people and to feel the 

Cf. DEUTSCH, H.: On female homosexuality. Psychoanalyt. Quart., vol. i, 1932. 


first respect I had ever felt for what they said. . . . My love for her was per- 
fectly pure, and I thought of her as simply maternal. She never roused the 
least feeling in me that I can think of as sexual. I liked her to touch me and 
she sometimes held me in her arms or let me sit on her lap. At bedtime she 
used to come and say good night and kiss me upon the mouth. 6 

Elsewhere this girl declared that she felt her first sexual sensa- 
tions at the same age (16), in connection with her teacher. 
From her whole biography it is clear that she tried to eliminate 
the sexual ingredients from her erotic relations to women as long 
as she could, yet later she became overtly homosexual. 

Another of Havelock Ellis' informants was stimulated to her 
first love feelings by a teacher: 

The teacher's face seemed very beautiful, but sad, and she thought about 
her continually, though not coming in personal contact with her. 

This girl's love was chiefly directed to women older than her- 
self, and 

The feelings evoked were feelings of pity and compassion and tenderness 
for a person who seemed to be very sad and very much depressed. It is this 
quality or combination of qualities which has always made the appeal in my 
own case. 7 

The first of Havelock Ellis' women had the most violent hate 
feelings toward her mother during her entire childhood, chiefly 
as a result of her resentment at being a girl. She transferred 
this hatred to the whole world, and she reconciled herself with 
mankind only through erotic love for a motherly woman. The 
second woman connected her love with feelings of pity and obvi- 
ously subordinated it to her sense of guilt. 

This deep unconscious relation to the mother is often ex- 
pressed in the poems and autobiographic writings of homo- 
sexual women; their painful and tender longing for feminine love 
rarely assumes a masculine character. 

While we ascribe a primary character to this mother tie and 

6 ELLIS, H.: Op. cit., vol. i, pt. 4, p. 138. 
1 Ibid., p. 227. 


support the view that in a large percentage of homosexual 
women the urge to union with the mother is predominant, 
analytic experience teaches us that this primary tie must be 
strengthened by other elements in order to infringe so power- 
fully and directly upon the woman's adult life. These addi- 
tional elements gain their decisive strength during puberty. 
In the triangular situation, the mother's attraction and the 
girl's eternal longing for her must prove stronger than the 
biologic demand of heterosexuality. The father's favorable or 
unfavorable influence always affects the original mother tie 
during puberty. His love may be rejected by the girl as a result 
of fear; her disappointment in him, or his failure to gratify her, 
may influence her need for love in favor of the earlier mother 
tie. Her sense of guilt, and her need to reconcile herself with 
her mother, strengthen the attraction of the mother's magnetic 
field to use our previous analogy again. 

More extensive experience has discredited the view fre- 
quently advanced by psychoanalysts that the girl's childish 
relation to her mother ends up in hatred and that the later at- 
tachment consists of a little remnant of love and overcompen- 
sated hate. A verse in D. H. Lawrence's novel, Sons and Lovers, 
expresses a profound truth: 

A son's my son till he takes him a wife, 

But my daughter's my daughter the whole of her life. 

Only if this love is accompanied by an excess of infantile 
regressive elements or hate components, does danger arise of a 
pathologic distortion of the love for the mother into homosexu- 
ality. Otherwise it is a blessing in woman's life. 


The Influence of the Enviornment 

AJUSTMENT to reality is the main purpose of all education, 
including psychoanalytic therapy. The individual's ca- 
pacity for adjustment presupposes a certain degree of 
satisfaction with the environment, and this in turn depends on 
his emotional state. The bridge between the environment and 
the individual, from the beginning of his life, is his affective 
relationship to this environment. The acceptance of reality 
is determined by love and need of protection on the one hand 
and by fear of punishment and of emotional isolation on the 
other. The developmental history gives us an insight into 
the ways and means by which the individual learns to master 
his primitive aggressions against the environment and his fears 
of it through "love." The aggressive components of love are 
familiar to us; and jealousy, competition, and hatred for the 
rival accompany the human being from the cradle to the grave. 
The objects of these emotions change, and the field in which 
the emotional conflicts take place is gradually extended. The 
individual's relations to his cultural environment always 
reproduce more or less his relationship to the first little environ- 
ment of his childhood, in the form of a new edition reshaped 
by external influences. 

In our social structure built up over hundreds of years, the 
family constitutes the individual's first environment and pre- 
figures his later more extensive socialization. The feelings of 
rivalry and competition, which are often considered the results 
of cultural conditions, can be seen fully blossoming within the 
framework of the family, in the interrelationships of its mem- 
bers. These feelings appear so regularly and so universally 
that one is justified in calling them part of man's natural 
disposition. They are characteristic not only of human 



nature; domesticated animals display them with unmistakable 
clarity. The best-natured dog furiously attacks his rival not 
only to deprive him of his bone, but also when he feels that his 
master is showing less tenderness toward him in favor of the 
rival. He may even ignore the food that is set before him 
food that satisfies his instinct of self-preservation when he 
sees that his rival is receiving the pleasure of being petted. 
In animals less degenerated as a result of domestication, a 
disposition to such reactions can also be noted. Close and 
prolonged observation of the friendly relations between cows 
in a pasture, for example, shows that these animals too, under 
certain circumstances, manifest modes of behavior that can 
be compared to man's. The mutual licking of the skin, for 
instance, serves some physiologic need, but there is no doubt 
that in the course of this process pleasurable sensations are 
developed. In connection with these, the group life of cows 
reveals features that remind us of human rivalry behavior. 
The family atmosphere in which human children live intensi- 
fies the inclination to envious competitiveness. In order to 
complete adjustment to reality, the adolescent draws upon the 
means and forces with which nature has endowed him, but 
which have been molded by education so that in human 
society he will not be too troublesome because of excessive 
aggressions or too helpless because of inhibitions. Often 
instinctual forces overcome the influence of education; often 
the requirements of the given social milieu turn out to be too 
difficult, or the young person's ability to adjust and master his 
environment turns out to be inadequate. Feelings of inferior- 
ity, helplessness, and fear on the one hand, and the intensifica- 
tion of the aggressive forces on the other, can exceed the 
individual's limit of tolerance, and in that event he enters into 
a conflict with himself or society. Psychic conflicts that have 
constantly accompanied his development, and that were kept 
in equilibrium under certain conditions, may become intensi- 
fied when confronted with the increased demands of the en- 
vironment. The individual's inner harmony is destroyed and 


he becomes neurotically ill, because the cultural requirements 
have proved too difficult for him. The question as to whether 
he is too weak or the environment too exacting, strongly 
reminds us of the question as to whether the hen or the egg 
comes first. The same is true of aggressions, competitiveness, 
and all the human evils that are intensified by irritating ele- 
ments in the living conditions. We refer here to the greater 
difficulty in gratifying the various instinctual needs and the 
aspirations of the ego, for instance, as a result of greater internal 
or external obstacles to sublimation, etc. 

Naturally each cultural milieu creates its own forms of ex- 
pression for the unchanging psychic processes in man and 
affects the various components of his psychic structure in a 
specific manner. This leads to cultural, racial, and national 
differences; these can be regarded as the fagade behind which 
are concealed the eternal, deep-rooted, only quantitatively 
distinguishable, and variable components of the psychic life. 
Cultural factors can, nevertheless, be so powerful that they 
extensively modify human behavior and influence even the 
deepest, biologically conditioned, instinctual manifestations; 
they can impress their form on the organic constitution and 
determine not only the frequency and intensity of neuroses, 
but their clinical forms. Thus, the well known fact that 
certain types of neuroses are prevalent in one country while 
others are frequent in another, can certainly be explained by 
cultural differences. Further, it has even been observed that 
various periods of history have been characterized by the 
prevalence of one or another psychic disease; changes in this 
respect can be noted within relatively short intervals of time. 
For instance, cases of dramatic, symptom-rich hysteria were 
strikingly rare during the thirties; recently, before the outbreak 
of the present war, they began to be more frequent. 

Nor is there any doubt that competition between individuals, 
and everything that this brings in its train, is more strongly 
marked in an individualistic social system. It is not unreason- 
able to hope that a collectivistic organization of society might 


weaken the competitive spirit that has become intolerably 
fierce in the relations both between individuals and between 
individuals and society. Such an organization would trans- 
form individual competition into group competition and thus 
make it more bearable. Group formations certainly offer us 
better protection against excessive growth of individual feelings 
than purely, individualistic organizations. A new form of 
society might also bring about a decrease in the number and 
intensity of our neuroses. At present our information from 
countries whose experiences could permit us to make more 
definite statements on this subject is still incomplete. 

Nor can it be denied that in addition to using the greater 
submissiveness of woman a submissiveness stemming from 
her passivity in the interests of his own sexual urge, man 
has frequently taken social advantage of her physical weakness 
and lesser capacity for active struggle. The best illustration 
of this are the European capitalist countries where female 
industrial labor has been ruthlessly and aggressively exploited. 
The materialist doctrine holds the economic system responsible 
for this exploitation of woman and completely neglects her 
own not always conscious disposition passively to accept this 
system. In the course of recent years the protest against the 
social and political inequality of the sexes has lost much 
of its impetus because the demands of women gradually became 
a matter of course in democratic countries. Our next task 
is to organize social equality in such a way that the biologic 
and psychologic differences between the sexes are taken into 
account. It would be tempting to undertake a thorough 
cultural-historical psychoanalytic study of woman and to 
investigate the conditions under which the various components 
of her psychic life have asserted themselves. Here, however, 
we shall deal only with the developments that we have partly 
witnessed ourselves and that give us an opportunity to observe 
the effect of social changes on woman's psychic reactions. 

When one considers the differences between the sexes in 
their relation to social equality, sexual problems must be dealt 


with first. It is still too early to appraise the results of woman's 
sexual freedom and of the sanctioning of polygamy in collectiv- 
ist societies, because the reports concerning these matters 
seem very contradictory. We shall, however, study from the 
psychoanalytic point of view those reports which seem to us 
most relevant. 

Ways of Love y by Alexandra Kollontay, the prominent 
Russian political leader, examines the very core of the problem 
that interests us here. Although not a great literary work, 
it is an important cultural and historical document, because 
it expresses faithfully the ideas of Russian women and young 
girls in the first period of the Russian revolution. It gives 
us an insight into certain psychologic processes and at the 
same time shows what effect swift cultural changes have upon 
these processes. The author held an important government 
position during the Russian revolutionary upheavals and 
thus had opportunity to study the histories of many individual 
women. Even though the cases she describes are presented 
in fictional form, one feels that they are based on the direct 
experiences of a person who has tried to be objective. What 
makes her book particularly valuable is that she raises present 
day problems without expressing any desire to solve them. 
She herself seems uncertain whether the conflicts she describes 
are merely individual feminine tragedies or the result of the 
social upheaval. She neither praises nor condemns; although 
she has faith in the greatness and creativity of the revolution, 
she refrains from passing judgment on the newly emerging 
forms of love and life. 

She depicts the life of three generations. Her chief char- 
acters are three women who have fanatical faith in revolution- 
ary progress and who conceive their lifework as service to their 
social ideals. According to the period in which they live, 
they belong to different political parties with different programs 
and methods of organization; but all three of them ardently 
desire the liberation of the Russian people and their lives are 


full of self-sacrificing activity on behalf of this ideal. Their 
emotional relations with each other have nothing to do with 
the maelstrom of party struggles. What separates them, the 
field in which they are unable to see eye to eye, is eroticism, 
the area of life that lies outside their social tasks, the personal 
feminine area. Each of them defends her own approach to 
these problems against that of the others and tries to explain 
the differences between them by the difference between the 
generations. In the eyes of the youngest, the older is reac- 
tionary; the latter suffers from the former's moral indignation, 
begins to doubt herself, and asks herself in despair whether, 
because of her old-fashioned beliefs, she is really incapable of 
understanding the new morality of her daughter. She is 
practically defenseless against that fatal term of abuse, 
"bourgeois prejudices/' because it confuses her and makes her 
wonder whether she is not after all really prejudiced. 

She knows that she found herself in a similar situation with 
regard to her own mother, and had the same feeling that she 
was advanced and that the preceding generation was full of 

We shall subject the life histories of these women to a brief 
psychologic analysis in the hope of gaining a better understand- 
ing of their problems than they themselves had. 

First we shall try to ascertain to what extent the misunder- 
standing between the three generations resulted from the fact 
that environmental influences shaped their psychology dif- 

The conflicts between them are described by one who, be- 
cause she represents the intermediate generation,^ is pressed 
from two sides. Olga Sergeyevna Vaselovskaya is^fhe daughter 
of Maria Stepanovna Olshevich, whose portrait she clearly 
draws for us. According to her description, Maria was a typical 
cultural worker of the nineties a publisher of popular scien- 
tific books and a tireless leader in the field of popular education. 
She enjoyed great respect among the liberal political figures 
of her time. Although she did not participate in the under- 


ground revolutionary movement, she rendered valuable services 
to it. In her theoretic views she was close to the Narodniki, 
the revolutionary people's party of the eighties. Her whole 
personality was severe and awe-inspiring. She always spoke 
briefly and to the point and smoked cigarettes. She dressed 
simply and not according to the mode, yet she remained a 
"lady/* caring for her hands, wearing a gold ring with a ruby, 
etc. Her appearance was quite different from that of the 
rather careless type of "illegal" woman revolutionaries. 

Olga learns from her strict and conscientious mother that 
the latter in her youth was disappointed in love. This ex- 
perience crystallized the firm moral code she had certainly 
already formed. She despises and condemns everyone who 
does not live according to this code and does not feel and 
think as she does about questions of sexual morality. A 
conflict arises between mother and daughter, not because of 
their political differences, but because of their different con- 
cepts of morality, especially with regard to their own love 
experiences. Maria Stepanovna has always been a progressive 
in her personal life; first she freed herself from her dependence 
upon her parents, marrying against their will/and later, when 
she fell in love with another man, she broke the fetters of her 
marriage and motherhood. During all these vicissitudes she 
worked indefatigably and with iron determination for the 
cause of popular enlightenment. While her first marriage 
condemned her to a certain degree of passivity, her situation 
changed completely in her second marriage. Sergey Ivano- 
vich, her second husband, was a Russian intellectual, obscurely 
idealistic but helpless in all practical matters, who spoke with 
heartfelt emotion of the misery of the peasants and the neces- 
sity of working for their betterment. His and Maria's daugh- 
ter, Olga, refers to her father somewhat deprecatingly as "that 
Chekhovian hero." This idealist fell into an absolutely passive 
dependence upon his energetic, active wife, became a shadowy 
revolutionary under her influence, went with her into exile, 
and helped her in her work. At the same time he deteriorated 


spiritually, grew fat and flabby, and took to drinking. His 
married life with Maria ended when his proud wife caught 
him flaqrante delicto with Arisha, the milkmaid, and learned 
that he had impregnated her. Of course, Maria did what was 
commanded by her moral code: she at once left her husband, 
taking her little daughter, Olga, with her, and, unconcerned 
for her personal fate, continued working for her cause. Al- 
though she later asserted that she had loved Sergey and had 
remained faithful to him, she never displayed much longing 
for him or sentimentality about her marriage. Olga learned 
this story directly from her mother, whom she always respected 
and admired. 

The Russian liberals had nothing but approval for Maria 
when, in order to satisfy her desire for freedom, she abruptly 
left her first husband and two children. After all, in doing 
this she expressed that liberalistic philosophy that places 
individual rights above the conventions of society and advo- 
cates woman's liberation from the fetters of monogamous 
bourgeois marriage in favor of the free erotic choice; at the 
same time, however, the institution of marriage is still main- 
tained. In western Europe and North America this ideology 
was generally accepted at the time Maria became its pioneer 
in Russia. Ibsen's Nora was its literary expression. Thus, 
Maria Stepanovna's personal destiny to a large extent reflected 
the contemporary libertarian trends that she championed. 

Closer psychologic analysis of Maria's personality shows 
that she is endowed with an energetic nature and exuberant 
rebellious individuality. She must translate her energy into 
activity, into unremitting labor in the service of society. 
The marriage of Ibsen's Nora founders because she believes 
that she has duties toward herself, and the same conviction 
determines the behavior of Maria Stepanovna. This kind and 
broad-minded woman, who displays forbearance toward every 
social transgression, is absolutely intolerant when a personal 
principle is at stake. As we follow the course of her life, 
we have the impression that she wants to subordinate her 


emotions to her ideals. We do not even know whether she 
experienced the human feeling of jealousy when she discovered 
Sergey's liaison. She probably immediately suppressed such 
feelings, and her moral code completely determined her be- 
havior, fitting it to her ideal pattern. Thus, what we would 
term cold egoism, narcissistic self-mortification, and intolerance 
toward the love object in less idealistic and lofty personalities, 
is excused and even admired in her case. 

Women like Maria Stepanovna are familiar to us, for they 
have appeared in different historical periods. When they do 
not subordinate their personal emotional life to the social 
revolution, they act in the same way for the sake of religion 
or some other conservative or revolutionary ideology, God 
is remote from the Russian women in Maria's circles, their 
religion is personal morality and the revolution; whatever the 
revolution demands is sacred, and individual desires must be 
subordinated to it. 

Maria Stepanovna and women like her are never free from 
dogma and system even in purely personal matters. They 
draw the inspiration and strength to realize their system 
either from themselves or from the environment. Whether 
the system serves a conservative or revolutionary goal is a 
matter of secondary importance. These women are extra- 
ordinarily loyal to their ideals, even in the face of death. Their 
own emotional relations also represent ideals, and they remain 
faithful to their emotions whether they feel them or not. 
Maria remains faithful to her second husband, because she 
once professed love for him and even then her love served an 
ideal of freedom. It is very difficult to decide whether such 
women have warm emotions at first, while later their subse- 
quent absorption in social, religious, or other idealistic activi- 
ties deprives them of much of their warmth, or whether from 
the very beginning they are incapable of really strong feelings 
and thus easily adapt their erotic demands to their ideals. 
The erotic atmosphere around them is usually icy, and harmony 
with a man is achieved only by such means as Maria used, 
that is, through common devotion to something impersonal. 


In Maria's love relation there is one feature that we en- 
counter very frequently. She is the type of the active, perhaps 
even excessively active woman who chooses as her love object 
a passive, usually feminine man whom she can easily turn 
into an instrument for her own ideas. Usually, the man is 
wrecked as a personality; in his subsequent "masculine pro- 
test" he begins to hate the once worshiped woman and turns 
with his erotic need to an inferior being who shows respect 
and admiration for his weak masculinity. This is what hap- 
pened to the husband of Maria Stepanovna, the intolerant, 
active, principled revolutionary woman, who, as a psychologic 
type, can be encountered in various historical epochs in many 
milieus and social conditions. It is only the content of the 
principles, the fagade adapted to the environment, that 
changes according to the milieu and the period. But she 
herself is always the same. Tender sympathy, loving identi- 
fication with her husband, motherly warmth toward her 
children qualities that, if necessary, can lead to the neglect 
of principles usually are and remain alien to her. Sometimes 
such a woman is endowed with a degree of eroticism that 
brings her closer to one of the types of feminine women we 
have described above (p. 209); sometimes she is surrounded by 
a troop of children and resembles our active matriarchal type 
(p. 283); but most often her affectivity serves values far re 
moved from the emotional and the personal. 

We do not know why Maria developed into that type ot 
woman or what factors contributed to her development. But 
much of her daughter Olga's life will be clarified for us by 
our knowledge of her mother. 

Olga Sergeyevna has never been directly in the feminist 
movement. As a matter of fact Maria Stepanovna was not 
directly interested in the emancipation of women either. 
She demanded equal rights for all, and for herself as a woman 
too, but her social activity Was in behalf of sexually undif- 
ferentiated ideals, above all in behalf of popular education. 
Her daughter, Olga, occupies a prominent position in the 
soviet republic and is an extremely efficient organizer. This 


woman's new postulate is "free love." While her mother's 
ideal was a freely contracted love marriage, Olga's ideal is 
freedom from the conventional marriage ties. Even as a 
young girl she is interested in revolutionary ideas and studies 
social problems. She is influenced in this direction by the 
atmosphere of her home, and in her puberty she does not 
experience the usual fate of young middle class girls who 
become revolutionary as a protest against their milieu. Far 
from opposing Olga's revolutionary ideals, Maria Stepanovna 
is proud when her 1 6-year-old daughter is arrested as an 
underground worker. But Olga goes through a personal 
revolution, in the course of which she frees herself from her 
mother's influence and adopts more radical political and moral 
ideas. While the mother was a Narodnik, Olga becomes a 
Marxist under the influence of a Bolshevik. Against her 
mother's advice and will she lives, "according to principle," 
as she says, in a free marriage with an older comrade, C., who 
assumes the role of her political guide and educator. 

It is not surprising that Olga loves a man much older than 
herself and abandons herself to his influence. In this respect 
she is like all adolescent girls, regardless of the social conditions 
in which they live, although in her concept of "free love" she 
expresses the new social order. It must be remembered that 
after her parents had separated, Olga became a fatherless girl; 
in her mother's stories and perhaps in her own memories, her 
father is weak, passive, devaluated, and she chooses her love 
object out of opposition to him. 

After C. is deported and torn away from her, she accepts a 
position as governess in the home of M., a married engineer. 
She does not like him: she finds him lacking in ideas, and his 
intellectual level is lower than hers, let alone C's. He is obvi- 
ously happily married to a "fragile doll in lace and furs" and 
has five healthy children by her. Olga is annoyed by this 
atmosphere of satisfaction and family happiness. The man's 
love for his pretty wife and his concern over her health in- 
furiate Olga, and she delights in making the attractive matron 


suffer to the point of tears by her aggressive behavior. She 
talks a great deal about life in exile, about the great task facing 
the revolutionaries, and about their sufferings for their ideals, 
and expresses her conteinpt for the satiated happiness of the 
bourgeoisie. Later she acknowledges that her hatred for the 
happily married couple was so intense and conscious that she 
even daydreamed of doing something that might provoke the 
police to invade the privacy of this peaceful family. 

We are quite familiar with this type of behavior, irrespective 
of the social surroundings. In our democratic social order 
also, adolescent girls protest against the unbearable atmosphere 
of their homes, reproach their parents for being conservative, 
find their married relationship "philistine and disgusting/ 1 
and express their protest in various ways, according to their 
cultural level. Sometimes their protest assumes a higher 
form and they join radical groups; in other cases, they demon- 
strate their liberation from the home milieu through "free love" 
that does not always stem from an inner need and is not always 
accompanied by feelings of happiness. If they do not succeed 
in outgrowing this adolescent attitude, it is repeated at the 
next opportunity in another milieu. Young girls of the poorer 
classes who act out their family conflicts to an excessive degree 
are placed in foster homes. Many case records of social 
agencies that concern themselves with young people remind 
us of Olga's experience in the engineer's home. The girls 
whose life histories are recorded in these offices transferred 
their conflicts with their parents to their foster homes, were 
infuriated by the harmony of the foster parents* married life, 
seduced their foster fathers, or, according to their disposition, 
falsely accused these men of trying to seduce them. 

Olga falls passionately in love with the hated and despised 
M. and unscrupously destroys his marriage. But she herself 
then enters into a conflict the motives of which are unclear 
to her. This conflict arises from the fact that she loves as she 
says both men, M. and C., and neither can nor will give up 
either of them. As a Bolshevik, she despises the handsome 


M., yet the slightest sign of indifference on his part causes her 
intense pain, and when he tries to take her, she gives herself 
as a matter of course. At the same time, she thinks with the 
greatest tenderness and yearning of her former lover, who is 
now living in exile. Her soul needs him, spiritually he is much 
closer to her; without him her life is cold and empty. She 
turns to her mother for advice and help, and, as was to be 
expected, her mother demands that she separate from one or 
the other of the two men. Maria's monogamous morality, 
entirely orientated toward love for one man, can neither under- 
stand nor approve of this conflict. Thus Olga remains sus- 
pended in a love triangle between an "earthly" and a 
"heavenly" love, unable to choose between the two. Inability 
to reach an emotional decision in such a conflict occurs very 
frequently, and we ascribe it to a neurotic character. We are 
very familiar with the split between sensual and spiritual love 
in men, but it occurs also in women, as the case of Olga shows. 

When Olga is made pregnant by M., her mother thinks that 
this tact should determine her daughter's decision. But Olga 
reacts to her mother's advice in a manner that throws much 
light on her complicated situation: the more her mother takes 
the part of the new lover, the more Olga feels attached to the 
old one. In her eyes, it is as if her mother and M. formed a 
liberal bourgeois alliance against the proletarian camp, to which 
she and C. belong. 

We shall not continue our psychologic analysis of Olga's 
conflict. What interests us is that she herself, out of deepest 
conviction, tries to give her purely erotic and psychologic 
problem a sociologic explanation, and regards her disagreement 
with her mother as the result of their belonging to different 
generations. The only factor in her case that, in our opinion, 
can be regarded as expressing an environmental influence, 
is that Olga, when she wrecks a marriage and simultaneously 
maintains relations with two men, displays no inhibitions 
arising from a body of social ethics. She has no feelings of 
social guilt, because her own ideal demands, conditioned by 
her philosophy, are in accord with the prevailing moral ideas. 


She lives in a milieu that sanctions simultaneous love for 
several men and no longer recognizes the rights of marriage as 
an institution. In this respect she is in opposition to her 
mother and reflects a conflict between two generations. But 
the genesis and solution of such a conflict have nothing to do 
with the social milieu, either in Olga or in our neurotics. Olga's 
triangle collapses for psychologic reasons, because neither the 
bourgeois M. nor the Marxist C. wishes to share the woman 
he loves with another man. Both withdraw, M. into a good 
job, C. to the White Guards, apparently from a need for 
revenge, just like any reactionary bourgeois. 

In later life, Olga saves the remnants of her emotional warmth 
from disappointment and lovelessness and, along with her 
consuming activity for the "cause," enjoys the personal 
luxury of a serene love relation. She lives in a free marriage 
with a certain Comrade R., who is much younger than she, 
sickly and passive. She herself describes him as her disciple, 
and everybody knows that she is far superior to him and that 
in all things she is the highest authority for him. She has a 
responsible position in an industrial organization, gives herself 
entirely to her work, and is just as much respected as her 
mother was. 

She has another characteristic in common with her mother: 
after vain efforts to find another form of love than that her 
mother knows, she nevertheless, like many other women 
living under entirely different social conditions, ends up by 
completely identifying herself with her mother; she too assumes 
an active leading role in regard to her man. In a perhaps less 
trivial and more tragic form, her fate is an exact replica of 
her mother's and she experiences this fate in a "misunder- 
standing" with the younger generation. This misunderstand- 
ing is profoundly psychologic, and once again the confused 
Olga and her ilk try to explain it by socio-ideologic differences. 
"You may scold me," she cries in despair, "if I am only back- 
ward, if the new conditions have again given birth to another, 
new psychology." 

We might reply to this woman, so efficient and intelligent, 


devoted to such a great cause and yet so confused: "No, these 
new conditions have only put a new wrapping around the old 

Olga has a daughter, Genia, who gives us a glimpse of the 
"new psychology" of the third generation. After several years 
of separation from her child, Olga, now married, takes her 
daughter into her home. There is a great shortage of apart- 
ments in the new soviet land, and the mother, daughter, and 
stepfather, in a spirit of realistic adjustment, consider it natural 
to live together in one room. Genia is strong, energetic, an 
untiring and extremely valuable worker for the cause. Olga 
finds her a stimulating comrade and feels toward her not as a 
mother but as a friend. Then one day she discovers that 
Genia and Comrade R., Olga's life companion, have a sexual 
relationship. The theme of incest, transferred in this case 
to the young stepdaughter or stepfather, recurs in various 
cultures, in widely separated epochs, in old myths and modern 

Olga's reaction to this discovery is what one would expect 
it to be. She is in despair, insulted, deeply hurt in her love 
for R., but above all horrified by her daughter's act. What 
seems to her most ugly and intolerable is Genia's attitude, her 
heartlessness and her conviction of her right to do what she 
has done, a right that she defends with cold intellectual argu- 
ments. She shows no sign of repentance or pity for her mother, 
much less love or passion that might excuse her relation with 
R.; nor does she manifest the slightest desire to get out of 
this situation. On the contrary, she accuses her mother of 
backwardness and lack of understanding. Genia extends the 
Marxist philosophy of the abolition of private property to love 
and argues that Comrade R. is not her mother's private posses- 
sion and that he and she, Genia, have the right to give free 
expression to their impulses. 

Genia is pregnant, and Olga has no doubt that Comrade R. 
is responsible for it. The young daughter, with a matter-of- 
factness that sounds cynical to the "reactionary" mother, 


declares that she does not know who the father of the child is, 
because she has had sexual intercourse with another man too. 

Most alarming and incomprehensible to Olga is Genia's open 
admission that she has never loved any man. She tells her 
mother that she had sexual intercourse with several men 
as a very young girl when she went to the front carrying gifts 
for the soldiers. She felt no physical urge to do this, but 
it gave her a kind of easy, conflictless pleasure that did not 
place any responsibilities upon her. If she had sold herself 
like a prostitute or been raped, it would have been another 
matter. But as she acted of her own volition and these acts 
pleased her at the moment, the matter, in her opinion, is 
completely outside the field of any moral judgment. Genia 
advances the typical argument that we so frequently hear 
from modern adolescent girls: "If I were a twenty-year-old 
young man and had sexual intercourse with women at the 
front, would anyone object to it?" 

Has she not the same rights as a man? Has she ever been 
unaware of her duty to society? Has she ever forgotten her 
responsibilities to the party? And is this not the only yard- 
stick and moral criterion? With whom and with how many 
men she has sexual intercourse is a minor matter. True, she 
is pregnant and thinks it advisable not to bring children into 
the world in this period of struggle. The new law permits 
abortions. Genia feels free of guilt at the very bottom of her 
heart. It does not occur to her that her mother is suffering, 
that Andrey (Comrade R.) may become unbalanced, that a 
pregnancy has psychologic significance. She evaluates all 
human relationships from the point of view of economic 
property rights and considers it wrong to claim private property 
rights in love relationships. 

Olga still tries to stress the intensity of her love and suffer- 
ing as factors that justify her indignation; but for Genia neither 
love nor suffering, neither happiness nor repentance is in- 
volved. She has the calm conviction that she is entitled to 
take her pleasure whenever she pleases. She does not display 


a trace of warmth, nor the most elementary consideration 
for another human being. Actually the passive Andrey for 
her is nothing but a male. Her liaison with him is an accidental 
product of the one-room apartment, and in his weakness he 
is an object of her protective care. As for her other lover, 
Abrasha, she does not love him either, but he has a certain 
power over her, she must obey him, she cannot do otherwise; 
and his attraction for her lies in the fact that she feels she must 
submit to his will! 

According to Genia's own words, however, she is not as 
incapable of feeling as she seems. She loves her mother after 
a fashion and suffers when she discovers that Olga is so "reac- 
tionary." She also loves men in her own way: for instance, 
Lenin, for whom she would even sacrifice her life. She also 
loves Comrade Gerasim, the party secretary, with whom she 
has no personal relations and who is her superior in party 
matters. She obeys him even when he is not right. Is it not 
curious that the active, cold, superior Genia speaks of love only 
in relation to men who make her submit? 

If we consider Genia as a product of her time, as the "new 
femininity" of the early twenties, we shall discover that in 
spite of appearances to the contrary she confirms a theory of 
femininity that she herself would reject as extremely reac- 
tionary: the theory that the subjection of the feminine sex, 
which recurs over and over again in human history, stems 
from a characteristic feminine tendency to submit to the 
standards and demands of the prevailing morality. In matters 
of love, this energetic, clear-sighted, and revolutionary girl is, 
without suspecting it, a passive object that automatically 
succumbs to the influences acting upon her in the form of the 
"new ideology." She submits, almost as if by a reflex, to the 
suggestive power of the new, without realizing that it represents 
the action of the rulers over the ruled. 

It is erroneous to think that because the fetters of the 
bourgeois social order have been broken, Genia is now a "free 
human being" in the sexual as well as the sociopolitical sense. 
She explicitly emphasizes the moral difference between her 


actions and the promiscuity of a prostitute. The latter does 
it for the sake of money, while Genia does it only for pleasure. 
Thus she subjects her actions to the moral evaluation that is 
proper to her generation. The fact that she does not love her 
sexual objects and that she has no desire for love happiness does 
not strike her as a defect; on the contrary, she boasts with a 
certain pride of her promiscuous sexual life, which she regards 
as "freedom/* She knows that she is incapable of love but she 
considers her enthusiasm for ideas and her work for their 
realization as compensating factors. The spiritualization of 
sexual life, certain spiritual qualities, and the individual 
character of the love object are not prerequisites in Genia's 
love relationship. Feminine eroticism, monogamous love, of 
which we have spoken above in the light of Genia's attitude, 
seem like a sort of fairy tale that arose under definite cultural 
conditions and that is stili dependent upon them. 

Yet actually Genia's type of love life is not as new to us as 
she and her comrades like to believe. We have observed 
similar behavior under quite different political and social 
conditions. For instance, we know frigid polygamous women 
who constantly change their love objects just as Genia does, 
and women who for definite psychologic reasons are in constant 
need of something new in their sexual experiences, in order to 
protect themselves from growing dull through habituation. 
Others are driven to new love experiences by the rapid dying 
away of their emotions, still others flee from some unconscious 
tie into frequently changing relationships, without ever being 
able to satisfy their longing. The number of motivations is 
large and usually they stem from deep psychic sources. This 
does not seem to be the case with Genia; one has the impression 
that her sexual life is completely separate from her soul. She 
resembles those women and girls whose sexual actions really 
have very little to do with sexuality conceived as erotic or 
sensual experience. Because their emotions are so little 
involved in sexual acts, there is no quantitative limit to their 
polygamy. Genia denies that in addition to the monogamy 


demanded by the bourgeois society that she hates, there is 
also a psychologically justified, free monogamy. This is 
because she is emotionally incapable of such relationship. She 
rationalizes her incapacity with the aid of a social ideology. 
She thinks that she follows the new commandment of sexual 
freedom out of revolutionary enthusiasm, and in this she is 
surely right to some extent. But Genia is unaware of the 
presence of deep-rooted personal individual causes that impel 
her to accept the new commandment unconditionally. 

To understand Genia's individual motives we must cast a 
glance at her life history. The few things we know about 
her suffice to give us some idea of it. She was a fatherless 
child and from her earliest childhood she was also deprived 
of a tender motherly atmosphere. She lived for some time 
with her cold, dutiful grandmother and later, as we learn 
from Olga, with various "friends." These friends were 
certainly revolutionaries who spent all the ardor of their emo- 
tions for the cause. Which of them had the time or emotional 
freedom to pay attention to something so irrelevant as the 
emotional life of a little child? Thus this aspect of her lite 
was doubtless neglected and she learned to love only"ideals," 
not living beings. She insists that she loves her mother; but 
hers is an infantile kind of love that gladly accepts the mother 
as the giver of all good things and the ideal prototype, but 
that is unable to take the mother's feelings and sufferings into 
account. Genia's protestations that she loves men reminds 
us strongly of the typical infatuations of narcissistic adolescent 
girls, who tie their longing to an object without really loving 
it. The duke in Maria BashkirtsefFs love fantasies (p. 97) psy- 
chologically plays the same role as Lenin or Comrade Gerasim 
plays for Genia. In this kind of love choice, the differences 
of intellectual level are not psychologically important. Yet 
now and then Genia displays a very feminine behavior: she 
has intense feelings for men only when she can subordinate 
herself to their superior power. 

We consider Genia an emotionally disturbed personality 


that succeeds in feeling superior through a socio-ideologic 
rationalization of her neurotic or instinctual actions. Her 
sexual urge is thus not freed from its fetters through the change 
in the cultural demands; nor is she a personality that is changed 
by social influences. What she represents is the effect of an 
ideology on predetermined, chiefly unconscious psychic proc- 
esses in a personality with an immature and therefore disturbed 
emotional life. 

However, the mobilization and strengthening of such reac- 
tions, above all Genia's liberation from guilt feelings, results 
from the social conditions. The shortage of apartment space, 
the ardent desire to do something for the cause, lack of time 
for emotional relationships, in brief, the emergency atmosphere 
of the revolution, all help to create numerous Genias. We have 
the impression that they can be found most frequently in 
certain intellectual circles; they are perhaps the product of a 
generation that, even in a less radical milieu, considers work, 
ideals, and intellectuality to be compensations for the weakness 
and shallowness of its emotional life. 

Maria Stepanovna, Olga Sergeyevna, and Genia use their 
social ideology to conceal and rationalize their purely individual 
motives, in a manner which is often useful for the community. 
In Maria, a desire for individual liberation and the belief in 
woman's right to self-determination merge into a social ideal 
that takes the place of warm love emotions. Olga considers 
the neurotic split in her love feelings an expression of freedom 
and permits herself recklessly to gratify her aggression against 
the other woman, without experiencing social feelings of guilt 
because she looks upon her actions as those of a fighter for 
progress. Genia, the most infantile of the three, who regresses 
farthest into the past in her emotional life, paradoxically be- 
comes the proponent of what is supposed to be the greatest 
step forward in woman's emancipation. 1 

1 The term infantile is here used in a purely psychologic sense and does not imply any 
social value judgment. Under certain conditions, a type of behavior that stems 
from psychologically infantile sources, like rebellion against authority, may be more 


The individual psychologic problems are not always so obvi- 
ous as in these representatives of three generations of women. 
But we can say that the relation between psychologic factors 
and cultural or social trends may lead to developments that 
have the appearance of being determined exclusively by en- 
vironmental influences. Sometimes the social element is used 
as a substitute for the repressed psychic tendencies, often even 
in direct opposition to them. In other cases, the ideology for 
which a woman fights serves as a rationalization of her own 
actions; often she tries frantically to adapt her mode of life to 
the existing social ideals without any real psychologic necessity 
for doing so. 

In Kollontay's description of her women, there are two cir- 
cumstances that must be kept in mind. In the first place, it is 
striking that the men to whom her heroines tie their lives are 
passive weaklings, subordinated and inferior to these women. 
Is this a mere coincidence? In the second place, the attitude 
of these women to motherhood is peculiar. Maria takes her 
little daughter away with her when she leaves her husband and 
does not even ask herself whether it is right or wrong to rear a 
child without a father. Olga vigorously rejects the idea of 
having an abortion, but she separates herself from her child in 
order to be free to work for the cause. Genia undergoes an 
abortion without displaying the slightest sign of the normal 
feminine reaction to this experience. She has no time to give 
birth to a child or to love it. So this is how the attitudes have 
been transformed in the course of three generations! Is this 
progress, and does this progress bring more freedom and poten- 
tialities of happiness to women or is such freedom won at the 
price of inability to experience the most intense feminine hap- 

adapted to reality and more rational than so-called "adult" behavior that con- 
forms to the demands of society. Immature individuals are often in the van of 
social development, and progress is inaugurated by the unsatisfied individual who 
strives for freedom. The fact that their bondage may lie in their own souls, and 
that they project the causes for it in the outside world, does not affect the social 
value of their actions. 


It should be noted here that in the course of the last two 
decades the attitude of the Russian revolution toward marriage 
and maternity has undergone profound changes. For many 
years now, promiscuity and frequent divorces have been 
frowned upon in the Soviet Union. Abortions are forbidden, 
while the constitution and many local regulations provide for 
the security of mothers and children. The last decade has 
witnessed an ever increasing trend toward the strictest monog- 
amy and respect for family life. 

I have used Alexandra Kollontay's book as an illustration 
because it is particularly suitable for the presentation of our 
problem. The files of our social agencies contain innumerable 
case histories of women who have transferred their psychologic 
conflicts to social, environmental conditions. Often the social 
mask is so convincing that one tries to find a social solution of 
the problem involved. Satisfactory results are frequently 
obtained for a short time, yet the psychologic component soon 
proves more powerful and supplies fuel for an ever renewed 
conflict with the environment. 

Maria, Olga, and Genia, who belong to three generations, 
coexist in every generation; they vary their personalities by 
emphasizing now one, now another psychologic ingredient, 
according to internal or external influences. These three types 
of women are perhaps not so different from one another after 
all. Only in their modes of solving their timeless problems 
do these representatives of the different generations seem to 
be partly influenced by the social structure. 

The Russian woman has gone through the fire of revolution, 
has largely freed her activity from social fetters, and continues 
fighting at the side of her man for their common aims. The 
American woman has achieved her social goal through the more 
peaceful means of democratic progress. But the femininity of 
both is fighting its silent struggles on a quite different front, 
just like that of all women of whatever race, color, language, or 

We shall now turn our attention to developments that we 


can observe more directly. For we too are living in a situation 
of social upheaval that can bring about rapid transformations 
of human behavior. 

We recall that in the interval between the two world wars 
American opinion was disturbed by certain striking develop- 
ments in the young people of both sexes. These related not only 
to the increase of the aggressive forces and the unbearable com- 
petitiveness that hardly left the last generation time to breathe. 
Other more regressive manifestations of this restless competi- 
tiveness disturbed us even more. In addition to the over- 
intensified intellectual and athletic activity that served com- 
petitive purposes, a terrifying emotional bleakness and super- 
ficiality was noted in these young people. One could not help 
feeling that the young men, despite their overactivity, had an 
increasing tendency toward passivity, while the unmistakable 
increase of activity in the young women, and their tendency 
toward masculinization, were accompanied by the same shallow- 
ness and emotional inertia that the boys displayed. While 
the boy's overactivity betrayed, in its overcompensating char- 
acter, the passivity and emotional emptiness concealed behind it, 
the girl's masculinization unfortunately expressed not only her 
growing social emancipation, but also her impoverished emo- 
tional life, resulting from an overgrowth of her intellect. The 
typical process of intellectualization that we have observed 
as a temporary manifestation of adolescence (p. 128) was dis- 
played by both sexes to a greater extent than before and for 
a long time after puberty. We have no adequate information 
about the causes of this behavior, but we see that this psycho- 
logic picture has been completely transformed by the war. It 
is true that the observations we have gathered since the out- 
break of hostilities can be appraised only superficially. 

In our attempts to understand the psychic transformation of 
people, especially youth, we must keep in mind that war is an 
emergency situation and like all such situations opens up all the 
reservoirs of fear in the human soul. The more acute and un- 


expected the emergency, the more profoundly does it terrify the 
mind, just as sudden natural phenomena, like thunder and 
lightning, mobilize the fears of a child. Even if tear is bril- 
liantly mastered and the individual's reactions to the war seem 
rational and logical, its existence must not be overlooked. 

The methods of overcoming fear are various; we must dis- 
tinguish individual reactions from mass phenomena. Gradu- 
ally, in the course of time, the individual modes of reaction also 
combine into mass phenomena. One of the methods of master- 
ing fear that is applied in wartime to individuals and to masses, 
is active participation in the events. Reality compels everyone 
to resort, nolens volens y to these methods, and the young of both 
sexes are subject to the same compulsion. Intellectual skepti- 
cism and emotional callousness are under fire from two sides: 
the demands of objective reality and the subjective need 
actively to combat the intensified fears. This need leads to a 
general psychologic mobilization. 

Within this framework of the general mass manifestation we 
shall also consider more individual phenomena. Especially in 
women, who are less subject to pressure from outside then men, 
the more individual methods of coping with the situation are 
noticeable. In some women, the active mastering of fear has a 
rather obsessional character, and in others it has a more hysteri- 
cal one. In the first case, under the pressure of the inner 
anxiety that has been mobilized, as well as of external events, 
the sense of guilt is intensified, and the need to suffer and to 
sacrifice oneself for the general cause expresses itself in various 
ways for instance, in the abandonment of previous gratifying 
activity and the assumption of difficult occupations directly 
connected with the war. Often the war sacrifice must be con- 
nected with immediate dangers, and the choice of occupation is 
determined by this wish. The self-denial and dependability of 
this feminine type are beyond all praise. Information received 
from the theater of war shows that this group of women who are 
actively participating in the war stands out favorably as com- 


pared to the others. They are particularly successful in over- 
coming fear through purposeful activity and in thus finding 
release from feelings of guilt. 

The hysterical forms of mastering fear are more varied. Here 
too sacrifice plays an important role, but it assumes a more 
conscious, dazzling, ecstatic character. In very young girls 
this desire to sacrifice themselves implies grave sexual dangers; 
the fact that every young soldier must actually face death 
deeply stirs the heated imaginations of such girls. They feel 
that they must give the man, already dedicated to death in 
their fantasy, everything that can increase the "last joys of 
life." Their personal fears are intensified by the general mo- 
tives for fear inherent in the war atmosphere, and in them the 
mastering of fear through activity extends to various fields, 
including sexuality. This activity usually involves a loosening 
of the ties with their old authorities and creates a tendency to 
rebellion, especially against the mother. I have observed 
several young girls who left their homes in a fit of rage when 
their mothers objected to their having interrupted their school 
work in order to plunge into strenuous and often not particu- 
larly important "war activity. " The war gives them a well 
rationalized opportunity to satisfy the tendency to run away 
that exists in any case. 

In observing feminine reactions to the war, one must dis- 
tinguish between those that take place in the nondangerous 
hinterland and those that occur closer to the battle zone. In 
the first case, the war is chiefly experienced in fantasy, and 
unless the impact of external conditions produces an adjustment 
to reality, bizarre acting out often takes place, of the kind we 
have mentioned earlier in our discussion of puberty. Young 
girls of this type use the war as a rationalization and realize 
fantasies that otherwise would have been repressed. Fortu- 
nately, the opposite pattern of behavior can also be observed: 
many young girls who formerly let life pass them by, and dis- 
played no particular interest in the community, are "awakened" 
through the war to purposeful activity and actually perform 


valuable war work. But even In these latter cases the limit of 
real necessity is often crossed, and a gratifying and valuable 
occupation is given up as soon as internal and external diffi- 
culties no longer need to be mastered. In this situation the 
freezing of workers to their jobs recently instituted by the 
United States government performs a worth while educa- 
tional task. 

The closer the danger, the more active is woman's participa- 
tion in the war, and not only as method of mastering fear. In 
all wars women awaken to activity when their children, hus- 
bands, and homes are threatened; because they often use the 
same methods, we often confuse the different psychologic aims 
they pursue. Women's activity in war-stricken countries is 
mobilized by the deepest motherly protective instincts; their 
methods must often wear a masculine mask in order to assert 
themselves. In i8n, the Russian peasant women fought at 
the side of their husbands as guerillas, often wearing men's 
clothes, just as they do today. They did not know anything 
about the demands of equality, and after the war they perhaps 
said once again with sadness: "He does not love me any more, 
for he no longer beats me." 

The psychology of women who voluntarily expose themselves 
to the immediate dangers of war is different. The wish ac- 
tively to master dangers has a much more personal character; 
it was there from the beginning, but here too, the closer the 
danger, the more active the methods of mastering fear. Eye- 
witnesses report that these actions often assume an intense, 
hypomanic character. In such cases, women are suddenly 
overcome by states of anxiety and depression, especially when 
there is a lull in their professional activity; this often provides a 
motive for drinking and abruptly abandoning sexual inhibitions. 
Rumors about the promiscuity of women working in the war 
zones are doubtless exaggerated but not entirely untrue. The 
motives for this are numerous and deep-seated. Many women 
are driven to seek "experience" by their own restlessness and 
fear; with others it is a frivolous, nonchalant attitude that 


leads them abruptly to overcome their own sexual inhibitions. 
These women think that it is "part of their job" to behave like 
men in everything, that is to say, to drink, to be rowdy, and to 
have no sexual "prejudices." They remind us of Genia, who 
had frequent sexual intercourse with soldiers, not from sexual 
need, but because of her wish for equality. 

In brief, the constant awareness of her active, direct partici- 
pation in the war has become a psychologic necessity for the 
young girl as well as for the more mature woman. This par- 
ticipation sometimes serves simply the adaptation to reality, 
sometimes the sense of guilt, and sometimes the narcissistic 
feeling of self-importance. In young girls war activity often 
draws all the fantasies of puberty into its whirlpool. All the 
fears of this phase of feminine development the fear of sexual 
experience, the fear of the approaching dangers of the reproduc- 
tive function, the anguish caused by feelings of guilt and per- 
sonal inadequacy now coalesce to form one all-absorbing war 

The fear seizes not only them, but all human beings; some are 
aware of it, others disavow it. For many it is a fear of death, 
justified by reality, for others it is only a summons of fate, a 
provocation of the fear of death that always lurks in the human 
soul, repressed and postponed to a distant future. The in- 
tensified need for activity in all cases furthers the rational over- 
coming of this fear. 

Along with these active methods of mastering fear, we simul- 
taneously observe an increasing number of developments that 
indicate a strengthening of the regressive forces in the present 
emergency atmosphere. Adult women are re-experiencing 
adolescence in all its forms; mature mothers especially after 
they are obliged to separate from their sons fill their fantasy 
life with exactly the same contents as their adolescent daugh- 
ters. During hours of solitude they evoke in detail the myth 
of the loving hero who dies a heroic death on the battlefield, and 
this masochistic girlish dream is completely separated from 
their realistic, often very absorbing everyday occupations. 


This hero is now the absent son. I know one case of a 50- year- 
old woman who, after her only son had joined the forces, fell ill 
with a grave form of agoraphobia, in which she repeated all her 
puberty fears. As a young girl she had for a time suffered from 
a typical dread of open spaces and remained at home in order to 
protect herself from the realization of definite wishes. The 
danger that threatened her now was that she might follow her 
son if she listened to her inner longing, which her adult self 
rejected as absurd. For thirty-five years she had remained free 
from fear, even when separated from her son, and only the war 
tension mobilized this adolescent emotion in the aging woman 

Girls and women who do not engage in this activity, either 
because they were always particularly passive or because they 
are paralyzed by the war fears, naturally fall into still greater 
dangers. Either they escape to the protection of their homes, 
without taking part in war activities, or their participation 
assumes the character of complete passivity and devotion. 
They especially fall into sexual dangers for which they are 
unable to carry the burden of responsibility. From their ranks 
come many of the involuntary war mothers who are slowly 
becoming one of our war problems. 

It is worth while to devote our special attention to war 
mothers as a psychologic problem. Here, in many cases, the 
responsible factor is man's war psychology. According to 
reports of eyewitnesses, the soldier's sexual readiness is particu- 
larly strong immediately before going into action, amidst 
intense preparations, or during lulls in the battle. One obser- 
vation confirmed from many sources suggests that in the face 
of the imminent danger of death, the need awakens in man to 
secure his own immortality, and in him too, quite unconsciously, 
the sexual act serves the reproductive function. "Thou 
art me too now. Thou art all there will be of me," says 
Robert Jordan in Hemingway's For Whom the Bell lolls, and 
these symbolic words are very really experienced by many who 
believe themselves doomed to die. In periods of increased 
tension human beings have a tendency to experience reality in 


a more primitive manner, that is to say, not only objectively, 
but also symbolically. The symbolic method of overcoming 
death often leads to consciously undesired but very realistic 
pregnancies, for girls who, because they sympathize with this 
unconscious desire of man, agree to his unexpressed proposal 
and let themselves be impregnated by the "unknown soldier." 
They are seduced not as a result of their own sexual excitation, 
but through serving the lust for life of others. This motive 
also plays a tremendous role in many young brides and unmar- 
ried girls who hasten to become pregnant by their husbands or 
lovers about to be drafted into the army. The desire to con- 
tinue the relation with the departing man in this form and to 
secure a common future with him is certainly a factor in their 
behavior, but the danger of death that heightens the desire tor 
a continuation of life is a much stronger although unconscious 

In the atmosphere of the war emergency, man, beset by fears 
of annihilation, experiences his own physical and spiritual 
projection into the woman through the sexual act much more 
strongly than at other times, and this feeling manifests 
itself in his unconscious urge to beget a child. Introspective 
men later become conscious of this urge and provide us with 
information about it that otherwise would come only from 
creative writers or the insane. 

In this connection it is interesting to recall Strindberg's de- 
scription of his own experiences. In a fit of morbid jealousy he 
was overwhelmed in a negative way by the same feeling that 
Hemingway's hero and our present day soldiers experience in a 
positive way. He believed that in his sexual experience with 
one whom he thought faithless he had given up a part of his soul. 
He was in despair because he had mixed his blood with hers and 
given her his own impulses; he wanted to take himself back, to 
reclaim that part of himself without which he could no longer 
live. Apparently, people who are mentally sound are under 
certain conditions subject to the same emotions that Strindberg 
experienced in insanity. In preparing themselves psycho- 


logically for death they summon all the gods of life to their aid. 
As for woman, the desire to continue her sexual relation with 
her man in a child is always present in her, not only in wartime. 
The ideas of death and of new life implicit in the act of propaga- 
tion are also deeply rooted in the feminine soul. Now this 
inherent disposition is accompanied by her identification with 
the man particularly when the love relation is good and the 
appeal to the gods of life manifests itself through the numerous 
pregnancies that occur under the most unfavorable conditions, 
against the conscious will of the woman involved. 

Another frequent motive for war motherhood stems not from 
woman's need for love, but from her doubts about this love. 
Marriages are concluded in a hurry in order to silence these 
doubts. She hopes that the expected child will strengthen a 
relation that stands on insecure foundations, while her uncon- 
scious moral feeling demands that she give the man about to 
face a hard and dangerous life every form of comfort and assur- 
ance. The hazards of war and the importance the man ac- 
quires through them transfigure the relationship, and this, 
together with pregnancy, that self-imposed proof of love, 
facilitates the woman's task. 

In general, all modes of reaction to the war emergency make 
use of whatever means people have as individuals. Only 
because the processes are identical in many individuals do they 
develop into a mass phenomenon. 

In this war we are learning how much woman's role in society 
depends upon the environment. Women are leaving their 
homes en masse; in various war services, uniformed or not, they 
have been drawn into the fighting machine and their perform- 
ance is good, often distinguished. But even today, after a rela- 
tively short time, a yearning for "home" is noticeable in these 
women, and they keep at their jobs only so long as they are in- 
spired by ideologic enthusiasm or are financially compelled to 
work. But even if the strongly emotional motive to serve the 
cause is present, women feel an increasing need for more per- 
sonal, direct emotional experiences, for that life atmosphere in 


which they play their passive feminine role, and in which they 
are more creative than in the war activities they have under- 
taken out of sheer necessity. 

Competitiveness has not yet entirely taken hold of woman. 
Erotic and tender motives still dominate her, rather than 
aggressive ones. The ambition of women who have joined the 
ranks, like that of adolescent girls, takes the form of "See how 
well I'm doing this, love me more than the others." A humor- 
ous cartoon showing a girl in uniform pointing at her instructor 
and saying, "Look, isn't he (or she) cute?" expresses an actual 
fact in a na'ive form. 

Another effect of the war environment upon women might 
cause misgivings were it not temporary in character: the affec- 
tive balance of woman's life fails when her work overtaxes her 
emotions. When very active, women do not seem to manage 
their emotional capacities correctly. They become poorer in 
feeling rather than richer in their direct, more personal object 

We must not let ourselves be blinded by the successful, useful, 
and "normal," that is, intensified war activity of women. We 
rejoice at their efficiency and capability, but we must not over- 
look the fact that many things that impress us as "activity" do 
not always stem from active forces. Along with active adjust- 
ment to reality and active work in the service of patriotic and 
social ideology, suggestions from the outside and autosuggestion 
often play a decisive role. There is a passive acceptance of the 
general mood. The passive and masochistic motive often con- 
cealed behind the active achievement still serves the "primeval 
feminine core." 

There is no doubt that many women use the opportunity of 
being masculine, an opportunity created by the war, for the 
gratification of their wishes in this respect. The uniform and 
the coarse working overalls are a symbol of masculinity not 
only for women but also for men for the latter in proportion as 
they feel that they are really passive and feminine, for the 
former in proportion to their active and masculine tendencies. 


In men, this is a reaction to definite inner dangers; in many 
women the uniform serves a double purpose gratification of 
their own masculinity complex and protection against social 
prejudices with regard to which they feel better equipped when 
they have a more masculine appearance. 

Predictions, especially in periods of rapid and unexpected 
upheavals, usually prove false. Therefore we shall refrain from 
making any; we shall only weigh the possible postwar develop- 
ments in the field of feminine psychology. In this we may be 
helped by our own personal experience in the past. 

As a direct witness of European developments after the first 
world war, I saw the manner in which sex differences expressed 
themselves at that time. We shall not speak here of the in- 
crease in the passive-feminine tendencies of men. The mascu- 
linization of women was unmistakably expressed in their inva- 
sion of the masculine professions, the changes in their ap- 
pearance, dress, coiffure, etc., and their energetic attempts to 
give their body structure a more masculine character. Re- 
ducing cures that often assumed bizarre forms and sometimes 
ended in death were supposed to overcome the inherent physical 
constitution of women. Sports activities, greater intellectuali- 
zation, the one-child system so widespread in the European 
middle class, were the visible forms in which the turning away 
from femininity manifested itself. Unless our observation is 
erroneous, the strata of women that actively participated in 
the war effort were not carried away by this trend. The prole- 
tarian and petty bourgeois women, those who had really re- 
placed men at hard work in factories, on railroads, etc., turned 
their jobs back to the men with a feeling of relief, and "hurried 
home." It also appears that in these very strata, despite the 
increasing misery and unemployment, the birth rate went up 
after the war. 

In this country during the present war incomparably wider 
strata of women are active in occupational fields. As a result 
of the war the whole feminine world will become aroused to an 
interest in community problems and will be able to participate 


more fully in what has hitherto been a masculine activity. 
The masculinity complex will become less odious, because 
neurotic conflict will be replaced by a better sublimation less 
obstructed from without. But the majority of women whom 
war has made more active than ever, will return as quickly and 
energetically as possible to the basically conservative because 
always dominant feminine experience, regardless of social and 
cultural upheavals. The external forms of this experience will 
be adapted to the social changes and are at present unpre- 

While we recognize the importance of social factors, we as- 
sume that certain feminine psychic manifestations are constant 
and are subject to cultural influences only to the extent that 
now one and now another of their aspects is intensified. The 
primeval feminine Autonoe, the fertile Demeter, the motherless 
Pallas Athene, the androgynous Amazon, are all creations of 
mythologic fantasy; yet they seem to have really existed in all 
societies. These prototypes of the feminine psyche recur con- 
stantly, always the same, yet always different, according to 
their culture, their race, and the degree of historical develop- 
ment of their society. The facade may change, but the femi- 
nine core remains unchanged throughout all storms. 


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der Madchen. Ztschr. f. psychoanal. Paedag., vol. 5, 1931. 
WERFEL, F.: The Song of Bernadette. New York: Viking, 1942. 
WILLIAMS, F. F.: Adolescence. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1930. 
WINTERSTEIN, A.: Die Pubertatsriten der Madchen und ihre Spuren im 

Marchen. Imago, vol. 14, 1928. 

WITTELS, F.: Mona Lisa und weibliche Schonheit: Eine Studie iiber Bisex- 
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vol. 20, 1934. 
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2 3> '937- 

ZACHRY, C. B.: Emotion and conduct in adolescence. New York: Appleton- 

Century, 1940. 

ZEROMSKI, S.: Wierna rzeka (Faithful river). London: Kolib, 1940. 


Abraham, K., 318 

"Acting out," 9 ft., 15, 21, 55, 378 

Active-masculine types, 251, 279-314, 363 

Active mothers, 282 ff. 

Activity, 209, 243 ff., 282 ff. 

woman's, in sexual intercourse, 224 

prepuberal thrust of, 5, 142 

See also Passivity 
Addams, J., 268, 271 
Adolescence, 91-148 

definition of, 90 

end of, 185 

feeling of solitude in, 95 f., 112 f. 

See also Puberty 
Adolescent types, 129 
Aggressive drives, 168, 243 ff., 281 f., 292 

male, 222 ff. 

See also Masochism 
Agoraphobia, 121 
Amazon type, 322, 386 
Ambitious types, 211, 286 
Amenorrhea, 166, 168, 182 
Anachronistic behavior, 17 
Anal phase, i 

Androgynous types, 196, 328 
Anorexia nervosa, 22 
Ascetic types, 128, 262 
Autonoe, 217, 290, 386 

Bachofen, J., 283 f. 

Bashkirtseff, M., 97 f., 122, 125, 372 

BenedekjT., 149 

Benson, S., 1 1 

Bisexuality, 35, 85 ff., 89, 116, 161, 325, 

33* f-, 336 

organic, 315, 317, 326, 330, 335 

in triangular relation, 32, 85 
Bios, P., 36, 87 
Bourignon, A., 323 
Brunswick, R. M., 117 

Carmen type, 287 f., 316 
Case histories, xi 
Dorothy, 99-105 

Evelyn, 37-50 
Helen, 82-3 
Molly, 175-78 
Nancy, 59-71 

Castration complex, 2, 150, 229 f., 238, 
278, 317 f. See also Genital trauma; 
Penis envy 
Chadwick, M., 152 f. 
Child ',1 'he, 32,34 
Childhood dependency, 12, 1 8 ff., 24, 91, 

113, 126, 243 
Choice of object, 95, 98, 125, 191, 199 f., 

21 1 > 336, 37* 
Chopin, F., 304, 313 
Cinderella, 249 
Circe, 287 

Climacterium, 4 f., 182, 324 
Clitoris, 227, ff. 233, 235 
Cloaca theory, 118, 158, 170. See also 


Clothier, F., 208, 232 
Cobb, S., 214 
Colette, 339 
Coramb6, 309 ff. 
Cultural influences, 355 ff. 

Daly, C. D., 152 

Daughter-father relation, 246 ff., 275 
Defense mechanisms, 9, 23, 145 
Dcmeter type, 284, 292, 386 
Depressive moods, 57, 112 f. 

in feminine women, 215 

menstrual, 173 f. 

in motherly women, 286 
Devaluation tendency, 92, HI, 114. 
See also Father tie; Ideal object; 
Identification; Mother tie 
Dollard, J., 256 
Dulcinea types, 142 
Dysmcnorrhea, 182 

Early puberty, 24-90 

Ego, 242, 244, 259, 272, 281, 301 

Ellis, H., 153, 155, 167, 351 f. 


39 6 


Erotic types, 193 ff., 273 

For Whom the Bell Tolls, 381 

Eroticism, 118, 145, 148, 185-218, 272, Freud, A., 9, 89, 93, 109, 337 

^74, 334, 3?i 

Faithful River, 161 
Family romance, 8, 248 
Fantasies, 130, 164 

ambitious, 105, 108 

bisexual, 286 

childbirth, 80, 167, 173, 179, 230, 277 

coitus, 254, 277 

exhibitionist, 97 f. 

ideologic-social, 99 

masochistic-passive, 231, 247, 255 

motherhood, 130 

parthenogenetic, 322 f. 

pregnancy, 15, 78, 87, 173, 179, 321 

prostitution, 15, 53, 87, 258 ff., 267, 

337> 340 

rape, 79, 255 ff., 277 
rescue, 222, 328, 340 
seduction, 256 f. 

woman's greater proneness to, 140 
See also Pseudology 
Father tie, 7 

Freud, S., i 
on father tie, 249, 252, 256 
on female castration complex, 318 
on female homosexuality, 329, 334 
on feminine passivity, 219, 239 
on mother tie, 121 
on multiple personality, 131 
on narcissism, 187, 190 
on passivity in girl's development, 5 
on rescue fantasy, 328 

Frigidity, 185,218,233,371 

Gangs, 36, 51, 55 f., 89, 106 ff. 
Genital trauma, 150, 171, 226, 230, 235 ff., 

*7 8 >3 r 9>3 ai f->347 
See also Castration complex; Penis 


Genitals, double valuation of, 118, 170 f. 
Girlhood Tears of a Man, 329 
Goethe, 291 
Goncourt, E. de, 1 54 

Hartmann, H., 242 

change to, from mother tie, 20, 32, 121, Hemingway, E., 381 f. 

205, 243 f. 
danger of, in prepuberty, 8 
disappointment in, 337 
as first love relation, 201 
influence of, in girls' relations to boys, 

8 9 

in neuroses, 254 

in prostitution fantasies, 261 

regressive, 122 

as source of woman's activity, 287 
Feminine women, 185-218, 225, 252, 
287 f., 363 

adaptivity of, 134 
Femininity, 38, 280, 319, 375 

"new," 370 

turn from, 163, 242, 295, 322 
Fenichel, O., 125,233 
Figner, V., 276 
Flaubert, G., 298, 304 
Flight from home, 37, 55 f., 127, 260 

Hendrick, I., 242 

Homosexual types, 325 ff. 

Homosexuality, 325-53 
in adolescence, 120 
component of bisexual phase, 85 
danger of, in early puberty, 31 
and regressive mother tic, 253 f., 346 ff. 
as result of sexual anxiety, 18 

Horney, K., 231, 238, 278, 295 

Hug-Hellmuth, H., 14 f. 

Ibsen, 361 

Identification, 7 ff., 11, 17, 24, 27, 84, 92, 

dangers of multiple or premature, 13, 

53>94> 1 86 
with father, 287, 337 
in feminine types, 213 
in loosening of old ties, 91 
with mother, 140, 174, an, 260, 295, 301 



Identification (Continued) 
stronger tendency to, in women, 130 ff., 

191 f-i 338 

Ideal object, 30, 84, 90, 96, 106 
Incontinence, 158 
Infantile behavior, 373 n. 
Insecurity, 55, 129, 189 
Intellectual types, 143, 290 f,, 318, 373 
Intellectualization, 109, 376, 385 
Intuition, feminine, 130 f., 135 ff., 192, 


Jones, E., 225, 233, 236 

Journal of a Young Artist > 97 f., 1 12 

Junior Miss y 1 1 

Klein, M., 150, 231 
Kollontay, A., 358 ff. 

Lampl-de Groot, J., 236 
Latency period, 25, 78, 118, 150 
Lawrence, D. H., 353 
Leda, 223 
Lorelei, 287 

Mann, T., 338 

Masculine women, 219 

Masculinity complex, 128, 209, 226, 

2 79~3 2 4, 340, 345> 385 f- 
Masochism, 239-78 

dangers of, 197, 218, 278 

fundamental, in femininity, 188, 190 f., 
194, 199, 210, 220 

moral, 209, 240, 257, 271, 273, 280, 288 

in prepuberty, 16 
Masochistic types, 268 ff. 
Masturbation, 15, 26 

attitude of feminine types toward, 212 

in boys, 117 

concealed forms of, 119 

given up in clitoris phase, 228 

and menstruation, 164 f. 

and rape fantasies, 255 

struggle against, 87, 156, 272, 320, 347 

vaginal, 232 f. 

Maternity, see Motherhood 

Matriarchy, 283 f. 

Mead, M., 225 

Meisenheimer, J., 220 

Menstruation, 12, 26, 54, 57, 149-84, 278 

aggressive drives in, 167 ff. 

biologic meaning of, 173 

enlightenment about, 1 53 ft. 

pains in, 167 

"surprise" in, 151 ff. 

taboos, I52f., 158 f. 

vicarious, 168 f., 182 
M6rim6e, P., 287 
Michaelis, K., 32 
Misunderstood woman, 112 
Monogamy, 204, 208, 372, 375 
Mother tie, 7, 20, 22, 27, 32, 56, 81, 117 

danger of, in prepuberty, 8 

in development toward femininity, 295, 

factor in monogamy, 205 

and homosexuality, 120, 253 f., 346, 

351 ff- 

inhibiting active drives, 243 f. 

new forms of, in adolescence, 1 16 

in obsessional types, 214 

regressive, 28, 121, 160, 214, 342 
Motherhood, 140 f., 180, 191 

complex, 148 

Motherliness, 144, 202 f., 212, 218, 234 
Motherly women, 15, 200, 202 f., 212, 


Much Ado about Nothing^ 202 
Mueller, J., 231 

Multiple personality type, 131, 133 
Musset, A. de, 298, 304, 312 f. 

Narcissism, 186 ff. 
as counterweight to masochism, 193 ff., 

210, 240 

double role of, 94 
intensified, in adolescence, 95 ff., 170, 


and intuition, 136 
and mother tie, 117 
and reproductive function, 278 


Narcissism (Continued) 

and sexual inhibition, 218 

vulnerability in, 162, 164, 197 f., 319 
Nora (Ibsen's), 361 
Nunberg, H., 94 

Obsessional types, 160, 213, 321 
Oedipal period, 32, 82, 89 
Oedipus complex, 116, 245, 252 
Operations, craving for, 79 f., 321 
Ophuijsen, J. H. W. van, 318 
Oral phase, i 
Orgastic response, 218 

Pallas Athene, 292, 386 
Passive types, 143 

Passivity, 131, 139 f., 190, 225, 241, 280, 

as defense against aggressiveness, 23 

increase of, in prcpuberty, 5 

as source of submissiveness, 357 

theory of, 219-38 
Paternity, 205 ff. 
Peasants, ^he, 196 
Penis envy, 194, 226, 234 ff., 279, 315 ff., 

3*4, 347 

Petite Fadette (La), 304 
Phallic phase, I, 2, 14, 227 
Phylogenetic hypothesis, 223 
Play-acting, see "Acting out" 
Pliny, 153 

Pre-oedipal phase, 19 f., 32 
Prepuberal offensive, 6, 18, 22 f., 93, 286 
Prepuberty, 1-23 

activity in, 241 f., 252 

definition of, 4 

theme of, 119 f. 
Prostitution, 263 ff., 295, 316 
Pseudology, 12, 123 ff., 256, 339. See 

also Fantasies 
Psychic infantilism, 8 
Puberty, 91-148 

fantasy life in, 255 

homosexual tendencies in, 334 

importance of, in personality forma- 
tion, 257 

a s new edition of infantile period, 3 

as psychologic revolution, 3 

rejection of father in, 261 

tasks of, 35 

vulnerability of, 76, 113, 162 

See also Adolescence 

Rado, S., 229, 236 

Rank, B., 208, 283 

Rape, 222. See also Fantasies 

Reinach, S., 324 

Reproductive functions, 147 f., 172 f., 

Revolutionary types, 274 
Reymont, L., 196 
Rubenstein, B. B., 149 
Runaway behavior, see Flight from home 
Russian revolution, 358, 375 

Sadism, 198 

Sadomasochism, 16 

Sand, G., 297-315, 317, 321, 335 

Secrecy, 11 ff., 27, 51, 53, 78, 90, 156 

Security, false, 58, 107 

Seduction, by father, 253 

by mother, 256 
Seifulina, L., 196 

Self-confidence, 95 f., 108, in, 115, 162 
Servants, difficulties with, 342 
Sexual rhythm, 221 ff. 
Son-father relation, 244 ff. 
Song of Bemadette, The, 28 
Sons and Lovers, 353 
Spiritualization, 144, 186, 371 
Strindberg, 382 
Superego, in 

Tolstoy, L., 31, 1 88 

Tomboyishness, 17 f., 25 f., 55, 89, 161, 


'Transposed Heads, *The, 338 
Triangular situation, 31 ff., 51 f., 73 ff. 

of early puberty, 85 

factor in monogamy, 205 ff. 

in fantasy, 257 


Triangular situation (Continued) Perinea^ 196 

mother tie in, 353 Voyeurism, 240 

with parents, 335-36 

Two-girl friendship, 9, 15, 27 ff., 51 f., War and Peace > 31 ff., 188 ff. 
90, 95 f., 120, 331 f. War, effect of, 109, 376 ff. 

War mothers, 141, 381 ff. 
Unmarried mothers, 208 Ways of Looe, The^ 358 ff. 

Werfel, F., 28 

Vagabond* (La), 339 Wittels, F., 196 

Vagina, 229 ff, 
"Vamp," 287 Zeromski, S., 161